(10 February 2003) Elfonia are an emerging progressive rock band from Mexico. Built upon the stunning soprano lead vocals of Marcela Bovio, the band's symphonic sound includes vast keyboard washes, lovely violin excursions, ample guitar work and crisp percussion. Their debut self-titled album (2003) is a collection of eleven symphonically arranged tracks sung in Spanish.
Founding Elfonia band members Marcela Bovio (vocals, violin) and Alejandro Millán (guitars, keyboards) as well as Roberto Quintanilla (guitars) previously were at the core of the band Hydra (website).
Pablo González (bass) and Javier Garagarza (drums) complete Elfonia's lineup. Enthusiasts of Renaissance (website), Projeto Caledoscopio (Seven revew, Carrossel review) and similar progressive bands are certain to be delighted with Elfonia's debut album. Interested readers should also seek out Hydra's rare Bosquejo (Asenath Records (Mexico), 1999) five-track EP (tape) as well.
The material on Elfonia is sung entirely in Spanish which works well with the band's rich symphonic instrumental foundation. Marcela's powerful and crystalline vocals soar above the arrangements drawing the listener in right from the gentle opening tune "eldalinalë." The material is moody with dramatic textural and tempo shifts occurring multiple times within a track. Heavy guitar riffs compliment the gentler vocal and keyboard parts. Several stunning violin parts are featured but they are less prominent in Elfonia than in the Hydra recordings.
In addition to the more symphonic-styled arrangements, crisp Steve Howe-like acoustic guitar is also found within the music. Such is the case with "nuestro descanso" in which Marcela's sweet, yet soaring lead is contrasted by jazz textures with acoustic guitar, bass and further sound effects. The evocative "aura" continues to illustrate the variety of material on the album. The gently sung, jazz influenced ballad, is underscored by thick progressively styled guitar arrangements. "drama" is a lovely acoustic-guitar-based balled and the only one sung solo by Alejandro.
In the progressively styled "dentro," Marcela's evocatively sung lead is supported by light piano in the verse and contrasted by heavier guitar-laden choruses. It is here and in the rocking standout track "de todas mis heridas" that the power and sensitivity her the lead singer's voice is most evident. The crystalline texture of Marcela's soprano is contrasted by vast guitar excursions in "modos humanos." Her vocal resemblence to Annie Haslam is clearly illustrated in the vocalise segments of this track.
One of the album's standouts is the symphonic progressive tune "hatshepsut." An extended instrumental with rich keyboard arrangements and crisp percussion is complimented by powerful guitar excursions that perfectly introduce Marcela's tremendous violin part and scales of instrumental-style vocalise. While somewhat darker and serious, the tune "añoranza" has an equally rich orchestral texture; Roberto's guitar solo and Marcela's vocalise add brightness to the track.
The lovely melody of "la vida que emana" is played by piano as the introduction to the epic "de todas mis heridas," an upbeat and powerful progressive rocker which is clearly the album's standout track. Marcela's vocal range and power are evident in the performance; her violin solo is equally outstanding. "alma infinita" begins seamlessly where "de todas mis heridas" concludes--almost as a continuation of the previous track--with evocative crystalline extended vocal notes soaring above the lush keyboard- and guitar-laced arrangements. These three tracks constitute a progressive epic. It must be wonderful to see the band perform this on stage. An evocative and emotionally sung a cappella twelfth (un-named) bonus track on our demo is a tremendous testament to the tremendous power, broad range and complete virtuosity of the band's lead singer.
Elfonia's debut album is an album for female vocal enthusiasts regardless of their grounding. That the music is progressive with an occassional Latin and Celtic edge makes it even more exciting. The album can be obtained from the band's website or at their live performances. One of the great finds as 2002 came a close, this 2003 debut album is worth a trans-Atlantic journey and is a must listen!