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Ataraxia - 2020 - "Ataraxia"

(45:13; Ataraxia)


Track list:
1. En La Inmensidad 7:50
2. Mojando La Cordura 6:17
3. Susurros 3:45
4. Ruinas 4:39
5. Numen 1:18
6. Preludio A La Luz 4:52
7. El Sonido Del Tiempo 6:41
8. Intervalo 6:29
9. Nunca Mas 3:22


Julia Samadhi - vocals, piano
Jose Desdentado - drums
Francisco Fernandez - bass
Alberto Donado - keyboards
Juan Velazquez - guitars
Jose Ramon Munoz - guitars

Prolusion. Spanish band ATARAXIA can trace their roots back to 2006 as a functioning band, and from 2007 until 2010 they were quite the active unit with 4 demo EPs to their name, the final two appearing in 2010. The band hit a spell of relative inactivity after this, but heralded their return to a more active phase again with the release of the single "Maga" in 2017. "Ataraxia" is the band's official debut album, and was self released towards the end of 2020.

Analysis. While reviewers such as myself may often state that an album has been in development for a decade or so when that is approximately the length of time between two albums by an artist, in this case that is very much a factual description: All the material on this album dates back to the band's demo releases from more than a decade ago. The phrase in development probably deserves something of an emphasis here too, as Ataraxia by and large was regarded as a metal band a decade ago. While elements of that style are still present, as of 2020 this Spanish band is much more of a progressive rock band than anything else, and the core foundation of their music resides in a totally different spectrum altogether. A defining trait throughout here are wandering and plucked guitar motifs and soloing, by way of acoustic guitars and clean electric guitars. Carefully flowing electric guitar soloing is a prominent feature as well, while actual guitar riffs are used much more sparingly and in a few select compositions only. Wandering piano motifs is another important aspect throughout, with soft floating keyboards and the occasional use of the more majestic organ being other important instruments of note. The rhythm department is nice and steady, and when expressive this tends to be in more understated manners. Bassist Fernandez will throw in some groovy movements and funky details on occasion, while drummer Desdentado arguably shines brightest when he throws down some dampened metal rhythms to a calmer jazz-oriented sequence. Both of them deliver some fine details here and there, but appear to focus more on giving quality support and less on delivering moments to shine brightly themselves. Faint praise perhaps, but as instrumentalists I am impressed with their contributions to the totality. The guitarists and the handlers of the tangents shine brightly throughout though, alongside the vocals of Samadhi. Twisting and turning between more distinctly jazz and jazzrock-oriented escapades to varieties of progressive rock of the kind I suspect would have been given the art rock description back in the day, with pianist and vocalist Samadhi adding touches from both classical music and jazz music to both the vocals and the piano. Unless I'm much mistaken all instrumentalists will toss in a nod or two in the direction of folk music here and there too, and as already mentioned we are treated to a few trips into progressive metal oriented landscapes as well. In the exceptions department I did note down that 'Sussuros' had what might be a slight touch of Americana to it, while the interlude 'Numen' probably merits a description as a pastoral creation. Otherwise I'd say that careful but expressive and tightly controlled art rock is the name of the game here, with jazz and jazzrock elements as the main secondary feature.

Conclusion. Ataraxia's debut album, some 15 years in the making, strikes me as a solid and very well developed creation. An album that has been in actual development for more than a decade too, and I'd hazard a guess that just about every second of playtime here has been listened to over and over again with critical ears to try to find details to improve. The end result is a solid album, always engaging on one lever or another and with many fine moments of brilliance spread throughout. Those who might fancy some careful progressive rock with a distinct jazzrock flavoring will find a lot to enjoy here, and if you aren't strangers to occasional folk or world music details and the odd excursion into progressive metal along the way, chances are high that you'll cherish what Ataraxia has to offer here.

Progmessor: March 2021
The Rating Room

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