October Equus — Presagios
(octoberXart Records oe03, 2019, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-12-30
It’s been half a dozen years since their previous full band studio album Permafrost, but it’s no surprise given the elaborate compositions and complex arrangements, which are always a curious delight, and not something that lends itself to be cranked out on a typical annual rock band schedule. With Presagios, only three members remain from the Live at R.I.O. Festival 2014 album, those would be the band’s two composers, guitarist Angel Ontalva and keyboardist Victor Rodriguez, as well as bassist and engineer Amanda Pazos Cosse. The newcomers include cellist Pablo Ortega, flutist Yolanda Alba Rodriguez, John Falcone on bassoon, and drummer Piotr Talalay, all taken more new members than old, but turnover has always been a constant in the band while Ontalva, Rodriguez and Pazos are at the core. The eleven instrumental tracks presented here cross numerous variations of what would typically be labeled chamber rock; you’ve got some seriously chamber instrumentation (cello, flute, bassoon) mixing with the four piece rock band core, although the drumming is very articulate and nonstandard, as is the rest of the core instrumentation. On tracks like “Cefiro” one might well be reminded of early Univers Zero with the addition of keyboards, whereas tracks like “Ceniza” follow a more lively and playful style, with rippin’ guitar and keyboard solos throughout its near three minute duration. “Estelas” is another playfully rhythmic and beautifully melodic piece with a strong presence for cello, while the title track offers that dark and foreboding sound led by bassoon and keyboards that might be a good soundtrack for crawling on your hands and knees through the cemetery at midnight, until it all speeds up at around the three minute mark and finds a steady groove with some blistering guitar through the song’s conclusion at close to five minutes. I’ve barely scratched the surface with these four tracks, but rest assured Presagios is a brilliant album from beginning to end, certainly worthy of a place next to all of October Equus’ previous work, and should be of interest of all fans of instrumental chamber rock.
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