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Angel Ontalva - 2015 - "Tierra Quemada"

(41:40, OctoberXart Records)


TRACK LIST:          
1. Tarlaya Ektim Sogan 4:38
2. No Return 7:11
3. Tierra Quemada 3:59
4. Ugetsu 6:56
5. El Telele 3:47
6. Comanche 3:40
7. Bicycles Were Quite Popular in the Forbidden City 2:31
8. Cobra Trap 8:58


Angel Ontalva - guitar, bass
Amanda Pazos Cosse - bass
Victor Rodriguez - keyboard, melodica
Pablo Hernandez - saxophones
Luiz Rocha - clarinets
Marc Egea - hurdy gurdy, duduk
Pablo Ortega - cello
Vasco Trilla - drums, percussion

Prolusion. Spanish composer and musician Angel ONTALVA is perhaps best known as a central member of Spanish band October Equus, but he has been involved in multiple side projects and collaborative productions as well. In addition he started releasing material as a solo artist in 2012, and so far this has resulted in seven studio productions as well as several live albums. "Tierra Quemada" is his sixth solo album, and was released through Ontalva's own label OctoberXart in 2015.

Analysis. If there is one word that should be used to summarize the music of Ontalva, then it is eclectic. His material does, by and large, include elements from multiple traditions and genres of music, and as such he is one of those artists one can point towards when anyone wonders if there is any true progressive rock being made also in this day and age. This is music with a strong progressive spirit and orientation on just about all levels. That this is an instrumental production will probably limit the audience somewhat, but for those fond of excursions of this nature there's a lot to love and treasure on this album. A key element in most parts of this album is the inclusion of folk music and world music elements, most often with what I'd describe as a Middle Eastern touch, but occasionally also with more of an Oriental and Asian tinge. These tendencies are a part of a greater context, where jazzrock is an underlying foundation, alternating between tight and structured arrangements and passages with more of an improvised nature, and even with a touch of free form details here and there. Additional flavoring comes in the shape of instrument details and textures that adds something of a chamber rock feel to the compositions, but as a recurring element rather than as a constant feature. All of this explored in several and at times rather different approaches, from dark, tight and firm excursions to looser, gentler escapades with more room for nuances and individual notes to shine rather than layered textured arrangements. Those fond of subtle dissonances will also find a lot to enjoy throughout this album. Towards the end of this CD Ontalva tones down the world music tendencies a bit, at first with a short, melancholic affair that comes across as more of a cross between chamber music, post-rock and jazz-rock, and then with a concluding longer creation that appears to explore the pairing of jazzrock and chamber rock in a more purebred manner. As with most albums that are made in a more purebred progressive manner, not all the material shines as bright as the rest, but there are plenty of truly mesmerizing moments in just about all of these creations, and none of the cuts comes across as superfluous in any manner whatsoever.

Conclusion. Tight and sophisticated instrumental progressive rock is what Angel Ontalva provides on his sixth album "Tierra Quemada". One of those albums that should be on the register of those with a heart for eclectic progressive rock, and then particular if the blend of world music, chamber music and jazzrock is one regarded as interesting by default.

Progmessor: October 18, 2017
The Rating Room

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Angel Ontalva



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