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Ángel Ontalva — Angel on a Tower
(octoberXart Records ao03 , 2021, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-11-02

Angel on a Tower Cover art

As the guitarist, one of the chief composers, and de-facto leader of the Spanish chamber-rock band October Equus, Ángel Ontalva has enjoyed a solo career in parallel with his band for at least the last ten years, as well as involvement in numerous collaborations with members of the Russian space-rock band Vespero, plus creating a whole new musical entity with the Vespero members called Seaorm. With over a year of being unable to tour, Ontalva had time to look back, reflect, and review a lot of music he had written in the past several years, but for whatever reason hadn’t completed, some of which date back to the time of his 2014 Tierra Quemada album, which in many respects Angel on a Tower could be considered a continuation of, although many of these compositions are of more recent vintage, but remained unfinished until this past year. Some were written with his band October Equus in mind, but on second thought may have worked better in a solo context, although from a listener’s point of view that conceptual dividing line is sometimes unclear. That said, most of the members of October Equus are on board for this endeavor, including flutist Yolanda Alba, bassist Amanda Pazos Cosse, keyboardist Victor Rodriguez, and bassoonist John Falcone, along with saxophonist Pablo Hernandez Ramos and drummer Avelino Saavedra. The album contains twelve pieces, all written by Ontalva save one group piece (“Deep Low”) and one traditional (“Sarisin”), some are quite complex and busy, like “Paradise Flying Snake” (presented in two different versions) and “Doppelganger,” others are hauntingly melodic, like the title track, “Maybe,” and “Land of Opportunities,” while yet others take a very gentle approach (“Roads to Sunrise Cities,” “Lena Pillars,” and others). All twelve numbers are profusely arranged, and only occasionally — as in some passages on “Footsteps” or “Maybe” — will the listener get the idea that this album is the work of a guitarist. In addition to the cover artwork and booklet design, Ontalva has included paintings in the booklet for each of the album’s twelve cuts. Angel on a Tower is a thoroughly amazing treat for the ears and eyes.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Ángel Ontalva

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