(left to right) Diego Leone, Marcelo Ponce, Gonzalo Iglesias, Lilah Bertolini,
Beto Vázquez, Ailin Áylbel, David Lazar, Danilo Moschen)
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photographically intensive feature article
album review incorporating an exclusive interview with rock'n'renaissance sisters
Reviews, Interview and HTML © Russell W Elliot and Mauri Osterholm 2002
images used with permission © Nems Enterprises 2001-2002
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Last updated: 23 February 2002
The material on the Beto Vasquez Infinity album is adorned with vocal contributions by artists our editorial staff and correspondents have followed extensively. This feature includes an album review with contributions by several of our international correspondents and an exclusive interview with the artists.
Our interview with the three stunning guest vocalists—Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge), Candice Night (Blackmore's Night) and Tarja Turunen (Nightwish)—and Beto Vázquez, as you will read below, was executed in the same way the album was recorded. Read about the legend within the lyrics of the album at the band's website.
Sabine Edelsbacher is the lead singer of the Austrian "bombastic angelic metal" band Edenbridge (feature) who have released two highly acclaimed albums, Sunrise In Eden (review) and Arcana (review). Sabine's voice is wide ranging, crystalline and powerful, perfectly suited for both storming rock numbers and gentle ballads. We caught up with Sabine at Edenbridge's headquarters in Austria shortly after Arcana was released.
Candice Night co-writes and is the lead vocalist in the American "renaissance" band Blackmore's Night. They have released three studio albums (feature) and toured extensively (concert review). Candice's voice is sweet and delicate; her vocal arrangements often include lush harmonies that perfectly blend with Ritchie Blackmore's guitar work. Our interview was conducted with Candice as she was concluding her holiday break before beginning another European tour.
Tarja Turunen is the award-winning operatic soprano fronting Finland's "melodic metal" band Nightwish. The band have three studio albums, an in-concert DVD (and limited edition CD) as well as an EP whose contents differ depending on the territory of release. A featured artist at Musical Discoveries (studio recording feature, live recordings feature) since 2000, Finland's Soundi magazine named Tarja 'vocalist of the year' 2001 as well as 'the nicest artist.' Tarja's vast range, incredible power, operatic vocal style and dynamic stage presence make Nightwish a truly unique experience.
Soundi awarded Nightwish 'song of the year' for their track "Over The Hills And Far Away" and ranked the band third in the 'band of the year' competition. Nightwish will complete a new album in Spring 2002 and begin touring (concert review) shortly after. In addition to her work with Nightwish, Tarja plans to do classical concerts also in Brazil and Argentina. We contacted Tarja in the midst of her classical studies in Germany between sessions for the new Nightwish album.
The bass player and Argentinean songwriter Beto Vázquez, founder of the extinct band Nepal, expanded his musical horizons, and accumulated new ideas with the hope of assembling a group of musicians that could fulfill and understand what he really wanted to transmit. In September 1999, he finished composing a demo and presented it to Nems Enterprises, who immediately offered him a record deal. Vázquez would have the hard task now of finding musicians that were adjusted to the high standards that the project demanded. The company also suggested that the album could be sung in English by voices of international fame, making it easy for the album to be released worldwide. Without a doubt, a great challenge for an Argentinean musician, but not impossible. We caught up with Beto outside his studio just before his album's European release.
The Beto Vázquez Infinity band members include Gonzalo Iglesias (acoustic and electric guitars), Danilo Moschen (keyboards and arrangements), Lilah Bertolini (tin and low whistle flute, medieval flute) and Marcelo Ponce (drums). Other guests pictured with the band include Deigo Leone (backing vocals), Ailin Álybel (vocals) and David Lazar (vocals).
Find out all about the making of the Infinityalbum and the artists' impressions of the project in the interview that follows our review.
Beto Vazquez has released an unique album after close cooperation with various internationally acclaimed guest artists. The album is perhaps more to be listed as one of his solo works. From the audience perspective this kind of music making is a positive surprise; independent from previous works the artist is free to create another and new atmosphere as evidence of talent and flexibilty. The Infinity album is a wonderful example of it.
The music incorporates nicely ballad and metal edged rock. These are especially the tracks sung by Sabine Edelsbacher and Tarja Turunen. A bit softer part is reserved for Candice Night who is able to continue here the style we are familiar with Blackmore’s Night.
Composition and melody lines are musically well arranged. You’ll hear the amount of work required for the album. All parts, also the instrumental tracks, are certainly to appeal wide audience and this is what makes it worth to travel the whole journey of this theme-album.
Focusing on female artists Musical Discoveries pay special attention to three contributing ladies on this album. We already know them from their work as lead vocalists of their own bands, but we were happily surprised to see them all joining their voices here.--Mauri Osterholm, Scandinavian Bureau
I first heard of Beto Vazquez when I was at a record store looking for Within Temptation (review. When the guy said that there was a record with Candice Night, Tarja and Sabine together I really got interested in hearing more. After only a brief first listening I decided to buy it.
The album is very well produced and played. What I did like the most is that I could appreciate Tarja and Sabine's vocal much better that in Nightwish or Edenbridge because this sound is a little lighter than the tracks done by those bands. You can notice that on the very beautiful "Wizard" and "Sadness in the Night," where the vocals are really in front of the other instruments, they don't have to 'fight' against distorted guitars all the time.
Candice songs, except to "Promises Under the Rain" are much like the material from Blackmore's Night, but this time a little heavier. They are all very good. Talking about "Promises," the last song, it is very nice to have a chance to listen to those three singers together on a song, very gentle and beautiful too. Overall it is a great album.--Luiz Octavio Drummond, Brazil Correspondent
The Infinity album delights from first play. Thematic in production telling a Renaissance-style story the project is musically centred on three of Musical Discoveries well-covered artists. It is a female vocals-oriented rock album that effectively blends the styles of the three "star" singers into a cohesive whole.
Opening with Tarja's lead, "Until Dawn (Angels Of Light"), the album quickly introduces Sabine's voice in "Wizard" and transitions into Candice's numbers, "Voyagers Of Time" before all three blend in the stunning "Promises Under The Rain" which concludes the album. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly we will be watching for more from Beto Vazquez. His star-studded debut is worth a trans-Atlantic (north to south) and is certainly a must listen!--Russ Elliot, Editor-in-Chief
What actually was the background and idea for this album?
Beto: When I decided to start this project, I was in a band playing thrash metal. I love different kind of music and I weren't able to express them in my former band, so I decided to start working on Infinity at the same time.
Candice: I was originally contacted by my record label representative from Argentina about Beto Vázquez's Infinity project. They were very excited about the idea and said that Infinity wanted to be a similar musical realm to what my band, Blackmore's Night, is doing. They said that the songs had a lot of imagery and were based on the idea of the storylines of times gone past. The presence of the king and queen and the beauty of that imagery translates through the music. This project is more symphonic and has more of a rock edge than the songs my band normally does.
Sabine: Beto Vázquez is a well-known musician in Argentina. He was looking for other artists who understand his ideas to translate them into action. Nems Enterprises proposed to find international well-known singers for this project. I guess that led them to me!
How did you select the vocalists that would take part and did you write the music specifically for the intended singers?
Beto: All the singers were chosen according to the new songs I was writing. With my producer we decided who could be perfect for the song and then he made the contacts. I am totally sure that the best ones have been chosen for each piece of music. I am absolutely happy with everybody's interpretations.
How did you present the project to the singers?
Beto: My producer Marcelo Cabuli was in charge of that. The first contact was very important and nobody better than him to explain to the singers what was this Argentinean project was about. Each artist received a demo and some guide to what we were expecting from them. I was very lucky that everybody accepted to record in my debut album.
What is your band's connecton to Beto Vázquez?
Sabine: One day Marcelo from our label in Argentina called me and asked if I would be interested in a project called Infinity. I was very curious and so he sent me a demo version of the songs I should be singing. It took off from there.
Candice: I actually had never met Beto, but I hear that he has a connection to a keyboard player that played on our album Under A Violet Moon. His name is Jens Johnannsen from the band Stratovarius. He's a super talented player and remains a good friend of ours.
Tarja: I sang on the album and Nightwish's guitar player made a melody line for one song. We used the same studio and engineer for the recordings and a couple of labels are releasing both bands' material. Beto Vázquez Infinity was a support act for Nightwish when we toured in Argentina.
How was this project presented to you?
Candice: Marcelo Cabuli who runs Nems Enterprises in Argentina called me and saidthat he has a project that he thinks I would be perfect for and they would love to have my voice on it. He sounded so excited about it that I asked him to send me the tracks that he had in mind for me to sing on.
He sent them to me and I loved the way they sounded; especially "Promises Under The Rain," it's hard to get that melody out of my head some days. I was very interested in contributing vocals to Infinity. I went into the studio with the backing tracks and came out six hours later with the vocals and harmonies done. It was really a pleasure being able to work on this album. I'm so glad they asked me.
Tarja: Marcelo sent a demo tape to my label in Finland and asked me to take part in the project. I wasn't interested at the time because I was very busy with my studies and work and didn't have any time for it. Then they insisted and finally when Nightwish was touring in South America, I accepted to take part.
The list of guest musicians is impressive and also quite international, so why you?
Candice: I think they probably asked me to do it because they knew of my past work on Blackmore's Night and the idea behind both projects is a very similar one. It's also an idea to which I feel most comfortable and most at home. The thought of the romance and passion of times gone past, the strength and chivalry of the knights on horseback, the castles, the mystery and the simplicity - they are all very moving, very thought- and feel-provoking ideas. I have always believed in the idea that we have lived before and the time period that speaks strongest to my heart and soul in the 1500-1600s: The Renaissance.
They had the same ideas in mind for Infinity and I suppose they thought that since that is the "realm" that I have delved into with my music since 1997 and been so taken by that I would be a good choice to add to the list of musicians. Plus, I think that they may have liked the sound of my voice too, which probably helped.
Sabine: I think because my voice perfectly fits with the songs they picked for me. It was a big honour for me to get this great offer; to guest with such big musician after our first Edenbridge album. At the time I got the offer, Sunrise In Eden was out for just one month.
Were the tracks composed exclusively for you?
Candice: I was told that the songs were composed with my voice in mind. So I'll have to answer yes on that question. Of course, if you ask Beto Vázquez and he says differently then - believe him!
Tarja: The songs were composed with somebody in mind. Beto and the producer chose the singer for each song once it was written.
Sabine: No, the songs were completly composed before I heard it for the first time. Only for the song "Wizard," Lanvall (Edenbridge) wrote the lyrics and the vocal line for the existing music.
Have you heard Tarja sing with Nightwish and Candice with Blackmore's Night, and if so, do you think that the songs they sing on the Infinity album were "designed" to create similar sounds to their "home" bands?
Sabine: Of course I know both bands and like their sounds. I am sure Beto Vázquez knew how the main bands of the singers sound like, so he knew which songs should be sung by every singer. In my case the songs are totally different to Edenbridge.
Did you do any of the songwriting, arranging or writing lyrics for the album or was it all prepared for you already? Can you tell us about the story of the lyrics?
Candice: All of the lyrics, melody lines and arrangement was already completed. I made minor changes to a few of the lyrics so they flowed better in English and added harmony lines and took some of the melody lines that I sing to a slightly different place in some parts.
As for the lyrics—it is a concept album. Although I didn't write the lyrics of the songs, I interpret them in a way that has the most meaning and depth for me, as does anyone listening to any song. It seems to me that there is a sadness—and a beauty in the idea in the songs—of being alone. A struggle within and also in life. It is symbolic that when a battle is won and victory is declared on the battlegronds, the doube that existed before is washed away and the bright brilliant sunlight is able to shine again, not only on her face, but in her heart. It seems to be a concept running through this album, that the simplicity of the past is comforting for someone who deals with the confusion of the modern day world. Yet the past holds many hard times and struggles of its own. The idea of not believing in illusions, promises under the rain, but believing in the reality of heart. It is a wonderful storyline to delve into. A journey "through the times" but also within. A discovery of self.
Tarja: I made only some arrangements in the vocal parts of the songs I took part. The album tells us a story from Middle Age that includes Kings and Queens, Wizards, Battles, but it was not intended to be a concept album in the beginning. When you have all the songs together, in the running order of the album you can discover the story I told you.
How did you work with the individual artists?
Beto: To choose the right person for each track was not so easy. We needed to adapt to their personal styles and to their agendas! With most of them we worked by sending the recording tapes with precise technical instructions. With Fabio, it was easier as he recorded his part for the "Battle Of The Past" in Argentina so I was there. No matter the long distances, the most important was the final result.
Did you get together in the studio or was it all recorded seperately with each one of you? Please tell us about the experience.
Sabine: No I didn´t meet any of the other musicians. I recorded my parts in the Seagull Music studio of Gandalf here in Austria. All the music and vocals were recorded in different studios. The mastertapes went to the Finnfox studio in Helsinki, where Mikko Karmila made a perfect job mixing all that stuff.
Tarja: It was recorded all the round the world in different studios. In America, Austria, Finland and Argentina. I recorded everything in one day at Finnfox studios in Helsinki, Finland. For me this project was a nice experience, it was the first project ever for me to do. I got free hands to do my own arrangements, so I felt pretty good with my singing process.
Candice: My part was recorded seperately, probably because I live so far away from everyone else involved. They sent me the tapes and the lyrics sheets and I went into a studio in Long Island, New York and immersed myself in the songs. I may have changed a few words here and there because in the translation to English some of the grammer or sentiment got a little confused along the way but most of it is exactly the way that they sent it to me.
Occasionally I changed a melody line here or there to bring it more into my range, but they said that I should feel free with doing whatever I wanted and making whatever changes were necessary. So, I did. I also added harmony lines that weren't originally on there, but that is my sound. I think that when you have a guest artist on a project it is really important for everyone to feel comfortable with their contributions. The songs should still have the same strong identity, but the artist should keep her identity as well and I think that it worked out perfectly on this. Tarja's voice is very identifiable as is Sabine's. We all are so different vocally yet on these songs it is as if we all belong. Three rock'n'renaissance sisters!
Is the album going to be released simultaneously in different territories? What are the release plans for your band's home country?
Sabine: South America was the first part of the world where it was released. Drakkar will release it on the 4th of March in Europe. Spinefarm will do it in Finland. It´s also gonna be released in Korea and Japan.
Tarja: I don't know of any US release plans, but in Europe and Japan it will be released in March 2002.
Candice: Good question. The American market is so strange right now. With more record labels and distributors going bankrupt every day it is difficult to get things going here not just with this project, but with any band. The US is run by corporations and fashions and right now it's pop and rap music. Everyone else gets a really hard time. I do hope that Infinity will be released here. I think that people would really love it and there is definitely a market here for this music. It just seems that every other country is so much more open minded musically than America at this point. I know that it is being released in Japan in February and in Germany and other parts of Europe this year as well. It would be wonderful if it comes out in the US.
Beto: In Europe, it will be released early March. Japan will release it few days before. There are no plans to release it in the US yet.
Will we hear these songs also performed by your band one day?
Tarja: I don´t think so. Nightwish is Nightwish and we already have three albums and a new one new coming soon, so I don´t think we need any covers from other bands.
Candice: Right now we have so many songs with our three albums, each with 16-17 songs on them. We also have Ritchie's whole back catalog of 30 years of songs to choose from, cover songs that we do like Bob Dylan's "Times Are A Changin'," which was our last single off our latest album Fires At Midnight and the new songs we have just written for our next album, we often do over three hours worth of music in our shows with our longest show going for three and a half hours. It would be great to sings one of these songs in concert someday. But getting Ritchie to learn another song may be tricky. He's go so much to remember right now!
Sabine: The boys of Edenbridge like the Infinity project, but I don't think that we will perform them with Edenbridge.
"Promises Under The Rain" concludes the album with all three vocalists on the same track. Was it easy to agree who is singing what or did you need some outside guidance for the final decision?
Candice: I fell in love with this song. Actually what I did for my part was just go in and sing the whole song so somewhere there is a whole version of "Promises" with just me singing on it. I knew that it was going to be a three vocal song with Tarja, Sabine and myself, I just didn't know which parts Beto would feel would be the best for my voice and the best fo the other voices. I don't know if the others did it the same way, but I sent in what I did and then they edited the vocal tracks together with the three of us on there and it became a beautiful masterpiece.
Sabine: When I heard it first what they were planning with this song, I couldn`t imagine how this will work. Marcelo from Nems Enterprises sent me a recording where Candice sang the whole song. She interpreted the song quite differently than I did. I was really very curious how they will bring these three different voices together. But you can hear it is possible and sounds interesting.
Tarja: The producer made the decision who is singing where and in which song.
Beto: The producer did that election and the version with the three singers with a more "wall of sound" feeling is included in the album, but there is also a version released in Argentina exclusively in a single [see artwork above left] with only Tarja doing her operatic harmonies and also another version still unreleased with Candice alone. A much more relaxed version, really wonderful I believe.
How would you contrast the sound of the BVI songs to that of the singers' bands?
Beto: When I write a song, honestly I am not thinking in any band to emulate. We just did it the other way round and looked after the singers with the song already done and the sound we were creating in every case. We believe that each one of them perfect fit the song we have chosen for them. In every case the mixing process and the sound of the instruments that were chosen makes the difference with the singers' band I think. The best will be that the listener can have their own conclusion about this question.
Would you please contrast the sound of the Infinity songs to that of Edenbridge for our readers.
Sabine: I do not think you can compare Edenbridge to Beto Vázquez. Beto Vázquez tried to bring in variety with many different singers. You have to face it as a project and not as a band. The Edenbridge songs are more bombastic and orchestral and, all in all, are more metal based. The most important thing for me is, that the songs are very melodic in both.
There are two different album covers presented at the Infinity website. Do you think there is a trend in the artwork being used on metal-edged albums? A recent album by Helloise has a similar theme to one of the covers.
Sabine: I don't know if you can say there is a trend of the cover artwork in the metal-scene. Every band takes the cover which fits to their music. I must say, I like the cover artwork of the European version more. It is not that stereotyped as the one in South America.
How do you feel about doing Blackmore's Night-style material that has been composed by someone else?
Candice: Since this is really the first musical project that I have been involved with without Ritchie's input, it was a great adventure for me. I think that Infinity is different enough to have a strong identity of its own and yet close enough to still be in the same kind of 16th century edgy/melodic category that we incorporate into Blackmore's Night as well. I'd love to be involved in other musical projects in the future.
"Through Times Part III" includes a heavier passage. We noticed your voice worked well in this type of arrangement too. Have you trained or even recorded more of this type of material as your colleagues Tarja and Sabine here?
Candice: Although the songs that I do in Blackmore's Night are varied, we like to run the spectrum from something as gentle and fragile as a lone acoustic guitar and voice accompaniment to the fan fayre of pageantry instruments and horns to heavy guitar in "Written In The Stars" or "Fires At Midnight." I enjoy the variety of the different colors of the rainbow, as in the very different approaches of the songs. So, when a heavier song calls for a different approach, I'll just throw myself in head first.
I'm not as experienced in singing the heavier styles as Tarja or Sabine might be, but my voice will give the song a different color. As far as other training where that is concerned, I think just singing my little heart out on songs like "16th Century Greensleeves" or the other rock-based songs we do on stage provides a great foundation. There is no better training for a harder approach to singing than experience live onstage. So, I'm getting a lot of that on tour! I haven't recorded any other heavier songs except the ones that I previously mentioned in my band although I was recently approached by another musician to be involved in another project similar to this one so you may be hearing more of this side of me in the future.
Have you used a wider voice scale on this album than we are used to hearing with Nightwish—perhaps there are more lower and softer tones here?
Tarja: Maybe it is like that. Being different composers, they have different kind of songwriting. I just did what I was asked to do.
High or low, lead or backing, the vocal work is clearly performed by highly skilled professional. Which direction—classical or rock—will have your main attention in the future?
Thank you very much. As I am a classical singer, the life itself means for me that I need to make progress with my voice every day. It means also that I need to work a lot every day with my voice. Is obvious that I have practiced a lot, but still in the future I need to make much more. Singing is the way of life for me.
Clearly we will be watching for more from Beto Vazquez. The album is presently available from the South American label but further releases in European territories are expected in early 2002. The star-studded debut album Infinity is worth a trans-Atlantic and is certainly a must listen!
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