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Banda Elástica — Pandemonium
(Luna Negra CDLN 58, 2022, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-05-05

Pandemonium Cover art

Banda Elástica’s last studio album, their sixth Ai Tencargo, came out in 2003, an eighteen year run since their first release in 1985, with new albums appearing every three years or so. Then nothing for a long long time until Aquí, Allá y Acullá ten years later, a set comprised of various live tracks culled from shows in the 90s and early 2000s, what at the time seemed like a fitting cap to an outstanding career. I’m happy to report that I was wrong, as the band is back in 2022 with a new set of studio recordings that show them to be in as great a form as ever — whether this is the work of a band that’s remained together all those years with no new product to show for it, or if this is a reunion album after a lapse of many years, it matters not — these guys still have the magic. The core of the band remains intact from the late 90s, with guitarist Guillermo Gonzales Phillips or woodwind player Guillermo Portillo (saxes and flute) responsible for the seventeen compositions at hand. They are joined by drummer Luis Miguel Costero and bassist Sósimo Hernandez, plus an additional group of five contributing musicians guesting on this track or that, mostly woodwinds, but also including percussion, banjo, and voices. Often it’s difficult to determine what is composed and what is improvisation, but that’s part of what keeps this set interesting, as it did on all of the band’s previous releases. While difficult to compare their sound to any other artists, their music exists as an instrumental endeavor without lyrics, probably closer to free-form jazz and avant-garde progressive rock than anything else, players keying off one another in bursts of brilliant creativity, with some general concepts to work from. Tracks are typically concise, between two and four minutes, only one “Virus Acustico” reaches the seven-minute mark (and there are several numbers with ‘virus’ in the title, as well as the slightly bluesy “Pandemic Ballad”). There are numerous standouts along the way, “Fase 7,” “Sapos y Ellos” and “Nueva Normalidad” being just a few, but this is one of those albums where the more one listens, the more one likes! In short, it’s great to have Banda Elástica back in action again, and Pandemonium is a perfect title for this latest set.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Banda Elástica

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