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Amoeba Split — Quiet Euphoria
(Bandcamp áMARXE 0523, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-06-06

Quiet Euphoria Cover art

This is a band that certainly can’t be accused of flooding the market with product — after their debut album, Dance of the Goodbyes (2010) and the follow-up Second Split (2016), I was beginning to wonder if the band was still a going concern. In fact, they have even managed to add a couple new members for Quiet Euphoria, making them now an octet. If the earlier albums pushed all of the right buttons for you, then one has nothing to worry about, this one is definitely in the same league, with many of the same 60s-70s Euro/Brit jazz-rock references that made their earlier albums so compelling; one can easily hear the strong hints of Supersister, Soft Machine, and Nucleus in their sound and approach, a creative powerhouse of Canterbury styled sounds if there ever was one, spread out across six tracks of varying length — succinct eough to fit on two sides of a long player. The core members from way back when are still here, Alberto Villarroya López (electric bass, guitars and keyboards) and Ricardo Castro Varela (piano, electric piano and Hammond organ), both of whom share the band’s songwriting duties, plus drummer / percussionist Fernando Lamas. They are joined by Pablo Añón (tenor sax, alto clarinet), Eduardo “Dubi” Baamonde (soprano sax, flute), Rubén Salvador (trumpet, flügelhorn), Iago Mouriño (piano, electric piano, Hammond organ, and Moog), and Israel Arranz (vibraphone), the latter two who were guests on the previous record. Gone are the guest violins and cello that featured on some of the tracks last time, it seems the band has a clearer direction on where they want to go. And still no vocals! The title track launches the album, but it’s only quiet for the first half-minute or so before it kicks into high gear with a beautiful, colorful melodic romp featuring spots for every player. A Middle-Eastern motif kicks off “Shaping Shadows” quickly evolving into a brisk groove supporting a dialog between trumpet, sax, electric piano, and electronics. Further out, “Thrown to the Lions” opens with a fuzzy electric piano figure before the organ, saxes, and horns enter the picture, and several wild solo spots follow, shifting gears several times over its seven-plus minute duration, offering some inspiring progressive moves. Set closer “No Time for Lullabies” opens with some beautiful piano work, proceeding slowly to just before the four-minute mark where the group starts to pick up some crazy steam that carries them out to a full eleven minutes, though it remains one of the more relaxed pieces in this set. Quiet Euphoria is a powerful album that should have a wide appeal to listeners of instrumental jazz-rock.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Amoeba Split

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