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Iconoclasta: Reminiscencias (1985)

I, never in my wildest dreams, ever thought Mexico was a hotbead of prog rock, until I found out through a certain prog rock mail-order catalog. Turns out that country had quite a few such bands, particularly in the 1980s, in an era where the old 1970s prog bands in Europe had either ceased to exist (too many bands to mention), or turned a more mainstream pop-oriented direction (Yes, Genesis), and the new prog bands went the neo-prog route (Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Twelfth Night).

Iconoclasta is regarded as one of the best prog bands to come out of Mexico, and they actually stuck pretty close to the classic ’70s symphonic prog rock sound. 1985’s Reminiscencias is their second album, and they seemed to turn away from the Genesis and PFM influences for a more original sound.

Again, the band featured duo guitars from Ricardo Ortegón and Ricardo Moreno, with keyboards from Ricardo Moreno’s sister Rosa Moreno, the bass work from Nohemi D’Rubin, and drums from Victor Baldovinos. The band added some new digital synthesizeres, but they never distract, since it’s so buried with the analog synths they also used (including the ’70s string synth they use). You’ll hardly notice the difference and the band still sounds quite ’70s.

The album opens with “La Gestación de Nuestro Mundo”. It’s a rather sinister sounding piece with piano and strange electronic effects. Pretty spooky. If that’s enough to give you chills, the album cover is equally sinister. Apparently, the band really showed some really deep concern about the threat of nuclear war, and in fact the back cover seems to show a city (perhaps Mexico City, not sure) in the aftermath of a nuclear war. This should not come as any surprise, as this album was released in 1985, when the country to the north of them, The United States of America was smack in the middle of the Reagan administration There were constant threats of nuclear war (which, thankfully never turned to a real war), particularly between the United States and the Soviet Union. Despite the nuclear war theme of the album cover artwork and of the label of the LP, the music is all instrumental, except for one passage with vocals in Spanish.

Anyway, back to the music, after the first cut, which gave me chills, they decided to make the next cut a more lightweight effort, that cut was, “El Hombre Sobre La Tierra”. For the first time on an Iconoclasta album, a flute is used. Nice addition, but used only on that cut. I was a bit thrown off when I first heard this cut, since I found it a bit cheesy, but it did grow on me. Luckily the next cut, “La Era de los Metabolismos Technológicos” was better. It showed the band doing a more fusion oriented number with some excellent guitar work. The album then closes with a side length epic, “Reminiscencias de un Mundo sin Futuro”, which is often as you expect in prog rock: divided in to several suites, going through several movements and changes. This cut is in the grand tradition of ’70s prog greats. The suites also bears some rather disturbing titles likes “Presagio de Extinción” and “Secuelas Holocáusticas” (although be aware, I know very little Spanish), no surprise, since the album’s theme is nuclear war.

There is one plus, and that is this album was better produced than their self-entitled 1983 debut. The California-based prog label Art Sublime reissued Reminiscencias on CD with their 1983 debut as a two-for-one deal with LP-sized artwork (although I own, as Mexican imports, the LPs of both). So if you thought there were no decent prog albums after 1977 or ’78, and you’re not much for Marillion and the like, you should try Iconoclasta, they’re a great example of an ’80s prog band that sticks with that wonderful ’70s sound, and this second album from theirs is an excellent album.

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