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(63:40, Azafran Media / Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dedicated to Us, But We Weren't Listening 3:49 2. Perfumed Garden 9:43 3. Turbulent Matrix 10:47 4. Blessed Water 12:25 5. Qwerty 0:49 6. Flight to Nowhere 23:39 5. Qwerty Revisited 2:28 LINEUP: Ricardo Castro Varela – keyboards Alberto Lopez – bass, guitars Fernando Lamas – drums Maria Toro – flute, vocals Pablo Anon – saxes With: Gaston Rodriguez – guitars
Prolusion. The Spanish band AMOEBA SPLIT was formed back in 2001, and released an initial demo in 2003. Seven years later they returned with their debut album "Dance of the Goodbyes", a production which gained the band a lot of attention and a sold out initial run of the CD. The album was reissued in 2014 through Azafran Media and Musea Records.
Analysis. With Amoeba Split we have something as rare as a Spanish band that has ventured out to explore one of the most profound British-sounding territories within the progressive rock universe, the type of progressive rock most often referred to as the Canterbury scene. Others outside of the British Isles have done so before of course, but not quite in the manner of this band. A key note of detail is that this band appears to approach this style from a jazz-oriented point of view, rather than the more common folk- or rock-oriented approach. Amoeba Split does cover just about each and every nuance within the Canterbury scene on their album though, a fact that needs to be stated. While jazz or jazz rock is something of a cornerstone throughout, in particular when it comes to bass lines and the expressive percussion and drum work, those more fond of bands of this kind exploring more whimsical, pastoral or even majestic territories will get their needs catered for as well. We get smooth, elegant and distinctly jazz-oriented escapades such as the instrumental Turbulent Matrix, a more even spread of jazz-tinged, folk-flavored and rock-oriented sequences on Perfumed Garden, and more elegant, whimsical excursions that move back and forth between playful excursions in multiple directions on tracks like Blessed Water. The two Qwertys at hand are more distinct jazz and jazz rock oriented affairs, brief and atmospheric interludes both of them. At last, there's the grand, major and epic-length Flight to Nowhere, a creation that explores all directions and flavors already described and adds in whatever part of the Canterbury scene variations the band hasn't yet touched upon at this point. All along the songs are elegant and smooth in form, performance and execution. Delicate plucked guitars, wandering piano motifs, powerful organ surges and wandering bass lines all combine quite nicely, the saxophone is also generally given an elegant rather than forceful presence, and the drummer is just as superb in delivering delicate percussion details as powerful and vibrant drum patterns, with a general penchant for exploring a more expressive delivery. Maria Toro does a fine job of delivering frail but firm lead vocals with a playful jazzy tinge to them, and caters for the more pastoral sequences by way of elegant flute details. The end result is a high-quality album that ebbs and flows through careful and forceful displays in a smooth and elegant manner, with words like playful and whimsical a good description of the greater majority of the moods explored, with occasional lapses into a more melancholic-sounding delivery and occasional excursions into darker-sounding atmospheres used to good effect.
Conclusion. The Canterbury scene isn't one explored by too many other bands with a contemporary history, so just about any additions to that scene is met with interest by those with a fascination for that particular style of progressive rock. Amoeba Split is a quality addition to the list of bands active in this field, and especially those with a strong affection for the more jazz-oriented bands exploring this style of music should enjoy just about all aspects of this production. A highly recommended album, and then especially to those who have a taste for the bands generally described as belonging to the Canterbury scene within the progressive rock realm.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 18, 2015
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