[Review] The Flying Caravan – I Just Wanna Break Even

The Flying Caravan is a band born in Alicante, Spain from an idea of the guitarist Antonio Valiente, already known for having participated in other Prog projects. This band offers an ambitious 2-disc debut album with over 100 minutes of music and a long suite of 7 parts. Released on January 11, 2021 via Paella Records the album is titled “I Just Wanna Break Even” and contains 13 long-running tracks in which 3 guests collaborate on winds and vocals. The opener “Get Real” immediately enters the heart of the band’s sound with Camel-style sounds, a solid rhythm session and an excellent mix of keyboards and guitar. The tempo changes are continuous and enrich the structure of the track, which immediately showcases the band’s ideas and excellent technique.The melodies are positive and highlight the keyboard technique and a 70s atmosphere revisited in a personal key. and modern with technique and quality. The intensity increases with the passing of the minutes and in this long instrumental the band is skilled in mixing multiple styles up to the Heavy Prog and giving space to all the instruments to express themselves freely with the keyboards and guitar protagonists in the solos. The next track “Flying Caravan” also gives the group its name, and starts with a softer guitar intertwined with hammond and synth. The rhythm session is elaborate and the keyboard melodies pleasantly take us back to the 70s, as the first vocal section with a female voice enters. The sounds are cheerful and the continuous changes of tempo show how the band is able to propose a high level sound. An engaging track with good ideas and melodies and refrains that remain etched in the mind making us travel and return to the golden era of Prog. “Upstream to Manonash” begins with an orchestral carpet and a more melancholic atmosphere, with a softer rhythm and more dilated sounds. The vocal is warm and expressive and full of pathos and increases in intensity in the central part of the piece. The second part is characterized by a touching guitar solo and then returns to the vocals and ends with a crescendo. An intro with a soft arpeggio and an orchestral carpet on which a delicate vocal is inserted and “Love’s Labor Mislaid” begins. A soft track that recalls the sounds of Magenta both for the voice and for the music, very symphonic in the first part. The second part with the entry of the percussion is transformed and becomes very rhythmic with a valuable synth solo and then closes with the initial theme. “The Bumpy Road to Knowledge” is a long track of over 16 minutes that begins with the sound of the sea waves and a thunderstorm mixing. A dark orchestration and a guitar inserts kick off the music, to which the hammond and a deep bass are inserted. The vocal offers another good proof with a melancholy and poignant cantato, while the track is elaborated with the input of the winds. In the central part the intensity increases and the artists alternate in solos in the long instrumental section that features guitar and winds as protagonists. With a tempo change in the finale Jazzy traits are added and the track can be said to be a very high moment of Progressive music. Here we come to the suite that characterizes the second part of this work with “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part I-Northern Lights” which begins with a dreamy sound. The orchestrations blend with the acoustic guitar arpeggios creating positive melodies, a very delicate section of the disc enriched by a tempo change in the central part. The entrance of the rhythm session increases the intensity and evolves the theme, the track is constantly evolving and touches more styles of Prog, from canterbury to Symphonic in this valuable instrumental piece. The second part of the suite “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part II-Change of Revue” begins with a melancholy sound and an expressive vocal. Here, too, the primary source of inspiration is Magenta, always with that personal touch of the band, a delicate track with symphonic features. The organ that closes the previous section opens “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part III-S.A.D.” where the synth and a solid rhythm are inserted. An engaging track with cheerful sounds, with a constantly changing structure enriched by tempo changes and a pleasant instrumental part in the center of the piece. Here the guitar takes the stage with a prolonged solo, and then in the final return to the initial theme and guide us to the next part. Fourth part of the suite “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part IV-The World Had Turned Over (And I Couldn’t Hold On)” where the voice takes center stage showing all its talents. A more delicate track made up of guitar arpeggios and effects that leave the vocals free to express themselves to the fullest. A deep and hypnotic bass line opens “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part V-Moonlight Labyrinth” with keyboard sounds reminiscent of the Doors. The guitar takes the stage with an excellent lead that guides us throughout the song. “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part VI-Second Thoughts” is the shorter section of the album, made up of choral vocals and positive melodies, with a more Rock structure and in the form of a Soft Prog ‘song’ to then become harder in the final. The suite “A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part VII-The Sum of Your Fears” closes with an acoustic track made up of vocal intertwining, piano and guitar in the first part. It closes in crescendo with a soft rhythmic session at the end, leaving us with good feelings of hope. The last track is “The Bumpy Road to Knowledge (alt. Version)” an alternative version of the long track that closes the first part of the album. Here too the band reinterprets the song with technique and quality, making this version also very interesting. A band that offers a quality Prog, long tracks where all the artists involved are able to express their excellent technique, clear ideas and good compositions. Expectations are high given the length of the songs and the presence of a suite, all respected, making this record a very interesting listening. All lovers of classic Prog sounds will be positively impressed by this band which must be followed very carefully both now and in the future. It will be interesting both to listen to them live and to see how their sound will evolve in subsequent releases. I recommend this listen to all lovers of good music, bands like this make me say that Prog is alive and in excellent health.

Tracklist

01. Get Real (7:43)
02. Flying Caravan (6:49)
03. Upstream to Manonash (7:20)
04. Love’s Labour Mislaid (6:39)
05. The Bumpy Road to Knowledge (16:45)
06. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part I-Northern Lights (6:46)
07. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part II-Change of Revue (5:05)
08. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part III-S.A.D. (Solitude Affective Disorder) (9:10)
09. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part IV-The World Had Turned Over (And I Couldn’t Hold On) (4:41)
10. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part V-Moonlight Labyrinth (3:51)
11. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part VI-Second Thoughts (2:56)
12. A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Part VII-The Sum of Your Fears (3:28)
13. The Bumpy Road to Knowledge (alt. version) (16:55)

Lineup

Antonio Valiente / Guitars
Izaga Plata / Vocals, Backing Vocals
Pedro Pablo Molina / Bass
Juan José Sánchez / Keyboards
Lluís Mas / Drums, Percussion

Guests:
Manuel Salido / Saxophone
Juan Carlos Aracil / Flute
Jorge Aniorte / Vocals, Backing Vocals

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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