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Ángel Ontalva — A Haunted, Hidden World of Caves
(octoberXart Records ao04, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-05-30

A Haunted, Hidden World of Caves Cover art

For his latest 2023 concept release A Haunted, Hidden World of Caves, Ontalva brings us ten new instrumental compositions in his trademark chamber-rock style, one reminiscent of several previous releases like the October Equus album Noches Blancas, Luces Rojas (2022) and his previous solo album Angel on a Tower (2021). The group this time out is essentially a quartet of Ontalva on guitar and bass, Victor Rodriguez on piano and keyboards, John Falcone playing bassoon, tenor sax, and clarinet, and Ivan Fedotov (of Vespero) on drums and percussion. In addition, Vitaly Borodin (also from Vespero) supplies violin on two tracks, and Markus Breuss plays trumpet on one, with every player having a prominent role wherever they are featured. On the brief opener “Golden Path” each of the players make a powerful contribution to the whole, Falcone on clarinet, Rodriguez on piano, and Ontalva on electric six string, together defining the parameters of the group sound while Fedotov maintains a busy rhythm on the kit. One of the more elegant pieces is the piano driven “The Lure and the Coordinates,” where Borodin offers a beautiful meandering violin figure, while bass and drums maintain the bottom end until a blistering effected guitar lead intrudes on the overall dreamy mood. The brisk pace of “Tunnels” is driven by Falcone’s colorful bassoon punctuated by piano and a driving bottom-end groove. “Stone Trees” begins as a duo for piano and guitar before bass, drums, and violin join the parade; it’s one of the few pieces here that feature no woodwinds. Beginning with a brisk jazz groove, “Fire in the Dark Hills” follows some eccentric paths and contains one of the most liquid guitar solos anywhere on the album, along with a splendid trumpet solo near the piece’s end. It seems like an album titled A Haunted, Hidden World of Caves should be so much darker and cavernous, but it certainly contains many colorful and elegant passages as well throughout its ten tracks.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Ángel Ontalva

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