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(40:02, AltrOck Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Tetascotch 8:48 2. El Dengue de la Laguna 3:35 3. Tu Guaina 1:56 4. Variaciones Sobre tu Hermana 5:59 5. Tillana 6:20 6. Cerrazon en el Teyu Cuare 6:02 7. Dominguillo 1:20 8. Cletalanda 5:59 LINEUP: Mauricio Bernal – keyboards, accordion; marimba Bruno Rosado – saxophones Oscar Peralta – guitar Adriano Demartini – bass Julian Macedo – drums, vibes, percussion With: Eugenio Zeppa – clarinets (6)
Prolusion. CUCAMONGA is a quintet hailing from Argentina, and the all-instrumental “Alter Huevo” is most likely their debut album. It was issued by Italy’s AltrOck Records which, along with Lizard and Musea, I see as one of the leading European labels nowadays, probably the most ‘serious’ one.
Analysis. Just like the case of Inner Ear Brigade, the info sheet of this CD doesn’t go further its publishers’ vision of the music presented. For instance, they compare it to Frank Zappa, with which many wouldn’t agree, I suppose. On five of the eight tracks here, Tetascotch, Tu Guaina, Tillana, Dominguillo and Cletalanda, they play an alloy of RIO and Jazz-Fusion (often merely alternating sections with corresponding arrangements, though) that seems common to bands such as Etron Fou Leloublan and Dajmonji with occasional hints of Soft Machine and Tunnels, and no bizarre elements at all. To be more precise, the first of them is more varied in style, as it additionally reveals a couple of sympho-prog and folk-rock moves and, at one point, even what can only bring to mind Metal-In-Opposition. It also needs to be mentioned that the jazz rock-related arrangements are for the most part slightly avant-tinged (just wanted to write “too”, but realized it would be wrong). Oscar Peralta’s guitar leads can recall the less manic and twisted aspects of Allan Holdsworth playing. Bassist Adriano Demartini evokes Guy Segers in approach. Julian Macedo’s vibraphone parts are sometimes reminiscent of Mark Wagnon, while his drumming is normally beyond comparison, the same statement being relevant to the work of saxophonist Bruno Rosado and multi-instrumentalist Mauricio Bernal (who, as a keyboardist, obviously prefers pianos, I must add). The proceedings are not as eclectic as those by either of the two aforementioned chamber rock ensembles, yet the music is of a high quality, featuring quite a few interesting chord progressions, besides angular melodies and stuff, so to speak. All in all, it’s just on those five pieces where Cucamonga is at its peak – in terms of both composition and performance. The remaining three tracks are less-to-much less interesting and impressive. Cerrazon en el Teyu Cuare is conventional Jazz Rock, too jovial and predictable alike to please the progressive ear, littered with non-musical features in places, such as (a lot of) male and female voices, bringing to mind a spontaneous crowded meeting. The first half of El Dengue de la Laguna develops similarly to the previously described track, but then it offers the listener circus music with a certain clownish feel to it. Nominally, Variaciones Sobre tu Hermana embraces all of the album’s basic styles, but is in fact a set of several different sketches with a lot of moments of silence and some verbal trash as well.
Conclusion. I believe “Alter Huevo” is Cucamonga’s first album indeed, since it suffers from what comes across as nothing other than the debut syndrome. However, a solid part of its contents indicate that this is a talented band with a lot of potential, inspiring me with confidence that their further outings will be much more cohesive than this one.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: Agst 7, 2012
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