Review – Caravela Escarlate – III – by John Wenlock Smith

This album represents modern Brazilian progressive music that looks back to the halcyon days of the 1970’s and it also reminds you of, well, everyone to be honest. So you can go either through this album and play spot the influence or you could just sit back and enjoy this great new release that does wear its influences on its sleeve for sure. But don’t they say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery or something like that?

The band are a three piece trio comprising of keyboards, bass and drums (sound familiar?). The keyboard player Ronaldo Rodriguez  is joined by multi-instrumentalist Davia Paiva  on bass guitar and vocals along with Elcio Cáfaro on drums and together these three make a tremendous sound, all three being very talented musicians who can play up  a storm. Their name, Caravela Escarlate, translates as Crimson Ship, an alien being from Sidereal space than can transform into its own means of transport, in this instance a ship. The music is 70’s style prog but with touches of Brazilian music this means most tracks swing along nicely, it is very heavily reliant on keyboards.

There are 7 tracks on the album with all but two being over 7 minutes in duration. I can detect lost of recognisable influences, and some less obvious ones like Greenslade, as well as Genesis and Kayak, along with ELP. The bass playing throughout the album is magnificent with an almost virtuoso style that really propels the track along. In tandem with the dazzling keyboards on display really, this is all very impressive and of an excellent standard.

In the opening salvo of Bússola do Tempo you get a prime slice of Emerson, Lake and Palmer in the best song ELP never recorded. This track hurtles along with a driving rhythm and great bass alongside the busy drums of Elcio Cáfaro. Castelos do Céu ploughs a path well trodden by any Canterbury based band you could think of, it has that type of sound almost whimsical at times and reminds one of early Caravan. With the vocal being in Portuguese, it is quite difficult to comprehend what is all about but it certainly sounds good musically, although my research shows several tracks refer to historical eras and phases.

Fifth track Cruz Da Ordem is the longest at over ten minutes duration, this is hinged on a busy bass line and lashings of Hammond Organ and synths. It makes for a gloriously over the top track with stunning bass and sympathetic keyboard sounds. Synths, organs and mellotrons abound on this album, it’s mostly instrumental and with all but one song in Portuguese, makes for a strange and different sort of album but a very impressive and compelling one nonetheless. An unusual album to listen to but one that mines a very rich vein extremely effectively and for that we should all be glad. Standouts for me being the opener and the epic fifth track Cruz Da Ordem, both of which make for highly memorable and impressive music for you to enjoy.

Of special note is just how damned brilliant bassist David Paiva is, he is a real tour de force without whom this music would be less dynamic for sure. His blending in and bonding as the rhythm section is sheer joy to behold, a definite star in the making. When you couple this to the explosive excellence of keyboard player Ronaldo Rodriguez you can tell their 12 year existence is time well spent to hone their skills to this level and hopefully, with the support of the Karisma label, bodes well for a very bright future indeed.

This album is most definitely a  grower and I very much look forward to hearing how this band develop from here going forward. All in all this album has proved to be a very rewarding listening experience for the braver prog fan. Maybe a slot at a fusion type festival could be a way forward, time will tell I guess. Either way it will be interesting to see their next steps forward.

Released January 27th, 2023.

Order the album from bandcamp here:

III | Caravela Escarlate (

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