The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Dracma

Many people may be familiar with the word Dracma as unit of weight, or currency. It is exactly from this term that the band derives its name. It is their wish to evoke that earlier spirit, or “old dream of man” with their music.

Keyboard player Jordi Amela, and guitarist Jordi Prats had been playing in a band called Rara Avis. The band broke up, but they decided to try putting another group together. In April 1993, they found bass player Jordi Planas, and drummer José Luis Pacheco (thus throwing a monkey wrench into the whole “we are all called Jordi” motif that was emerging). Planas and Pacheco were band mates from two previous collaborations, and were also looking for a new group. The nexus of the first formation was the Abraxas bar, in Barcelona Spain. For the next six months, the quartet rehearsed, wrote music, and searched for a singer. Then José brought in Pedro Jiménez, who he had worked with in a band called Hamelin.

With the lineup now complete, they concentrated on composing, and finding a label. Despite not having a recording contract, by December 1993 there was enough material for an album. So, they went to Trama studios, and produced the recordings themselves. Since time is money, all recording was completed in one week. The band felt the ticking of the clock intensely, and is what inspired them to name the first album “Limits.” The pressure did however take its toll, and Pacheco left the group. A replacement was found the next month. Eduardo Camblor, from Mendianoche, became the new drummer.

With the album recorded, and all the band positions again filled, Dracma continued to shop for a record label. Eventually they signed with the well-known Italian prog label, Mellow Records. In November 1994, “Limits” gets a worldwide release, and very favorable responses. At the beginning of 1995, Mellow Records asks them to take part in a Genesis tribute album. The group chooses to record “The Light Dies Down on Broadway” (from “The Lamb”), and it is released as part of the tribute album, “The River of Constant Change,” in May. Once again they were working against the clock, but considering how fast they were able to record their first album, this must have seemed easy.

By the end of the year, they were again ready to record an album (when did these guys sleep?). In January 1996, the recording of “A Fine Stormy Weather” was completed at their studio “home,” Jan Cadela Studios in Barcelona. At this time they were experiencing problems with Mellow. Jordi Planas sites the lack of communication as the major problem. The tensions got the better of Euduardo Camblor, and he left the band. As you may have guessed, there was little time wasted in finding a replacement. As was done before, they looked at past associations, and found Rod Oliveira. He had played with Planas in Kaplan. They also acted quickly in finding a new label. In June 1996, “A fine Stormy Weather” was released by Musea.

The band toured, but it was the performance at the Bikini Club in Barcelona, in July 1997, that would prove to be the finale (at least for a while). In October, Amela, Prats and Oliveira found bassist Marc Basomba, and created the Jazz-Fusion band Octubre. After almost two years with the new project, Rod Oliveira decided to permanently return to Brazil. Octubre was thusly disbanded. Prats and Amela continued in the same vein, with a new project named APG.

People can put down the rise of the internet all they want, but it has done wonders for prog. One of the most obvious ways is how it has a tendency to renew interest in bands that have fallen by the wayside. In 2003, spurred on by emails and forum discussions, Amela and Prats decided to bring back Dracma. The initial idea was to keep it instrumental. Prats would cover bass, and the drums were to be programmed. But, things do have a way of evolving. In early 2005, Prats ran into Euduardo Camblor at a jam session, and asked him to join on the new project. In the spring, work was started as a trio. It was also beginning to sound like vocals might be a good idea. They had a couple of friends involved briefly on vocals and bass, but it was becoming clear they needed something more permanent. After much discussion, in June 2006 it was decided to add Xavi “Indigo” Torres as the lead singer. It was no longer a trio, nor was it instrumental, so why not add a bass player? Following the old pattern, Prats went to a former collaborator, and enlisted Roger Vilageliu, whom he had played with in Urban Trapeze.

Okay, it took a while, but Dracma finally put the band back together, and recorded another album. In July 2007, they began studio work on “Ubud.” The album was released in 2008, and premiered as a digital album. The proper CD was released by Musea.

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