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October Equus — Noches Blancas, Luces Rojas
(octoberXart Records oe04, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-09-04

Noches Blancas, Luces Rojas Cover art

October Equus has been a going concern since the early 2000s, and generally has featured an all-instrumental six or seven piece lineup featuring cello, flutes, and other woodwinds, plus guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards, with a distinct dark chamber rock feel sometimes informed by jazz elements, something akin to a mid-70s King Crimson meeting with early-80s Univers Zero with some additional ideas blended in. Such was the case on their previous record, Presagios from 2019. With the newest release Noches Blancas, Luces Rojas, the band has distilled to a quartet, with guitarist Ángel Ontalva taking on the duties of bassist, and keyboardist Victor Rodriguez handling string sounds via the keys (Mellotron, string symth, etc.), along with drummer Avelino Saavedra and basoonist John Falcone, who was on board for the last album. The title track, a sprawling 24-minute epic of ever-shifting ideas, was composed by Ontalva, while five shorter tracks totaling 28 minutes were composed by Rodriguez. With bassoon now being the only woodwind instrument, it does command a certain degree of attention throughout, sometimes carrying a dark sinister attitude, other times injecting an element of musical humor into the proceedings, while keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums drive home the sheer complexities of the compositions. Throughout the opener, ideas build and change, sometimes without a lot of forewarning, but it’s that suspense that makes this music so intense and powerful, full of drama and mystery, With Rodriguez’ five numbers, there is a sense of exploration that branches out in a number of different directions, though with the same crew and instrumentation in play, there are bound to be many similarities with the massive opener; one may detect a bit more conventional progressive rock in a Frank Zappa sort of way on these back five numbers, yet the powerful execution and sense of invention remain the standing order of the moment. Like all the October Equus before it, Noches Blancas, Luces Rojas is full of mystery and surprises, with never a dull moment.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): October Equus, Ángel Ontalva

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