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(43:43, ‘Roadkill Music’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Wzdy Czelestnik 5:34 2. Kotegarda-III 0:27 3. Interrferrometerr 6:04 4. Meszuga Kleipulesa 4:48 5. The Augurs of Spring 3:58 6. Paralaksy Dyzaskorufin 6:06 7. Tripl Ratamaklie 5:28 8. Kotegarda-II 1:05 9. Gargoyles 8:16 10. Kotegarda-I 1:50 LINEUP: Marcin Borowski – drums; whistle Pavel Kubica – piano, keyboards Tylda Ciolkosz – violin; vocals Bartek Zeman – guitars Leszek Mrozowski – bass
Prolusion. Poland’s GARGANTUA is back with “Kotegarda”, which is a successor to their self-titled debut album from 2004. Originally a male quartet, the band appears this time as a five-man crew with a woman onboard, whose violin is in turn a new element to their instrumentation.
Analysis. Now, with two attentive listens to “Kotegarda” behind me, I realize that this recording reveals a lot of alterations to the band’s original sound, which aren’t limited to the aforesaid novelties of course. While its predecessor contains only one purely instrumental piece, the new album offers a sort of totally opposite scenario, as only its opener, Wzdy Czelestnik, has a lyrical content, and therefore singing also. However, it’s the stylistic angle of Gargantua’s work that comes across as being exposed to the most significant modifications, even though some of their past compositional trends are still preserved, particularly the one suggesting their creative connection with King Crimson. With the exception of its three shortest cuts, which, surprisingly, all were given the same title (totaling 3 minutes in length, Kotegarda-I, -II & -III are each a set of bizarre effects that could’ve been easily omitted here), the album lies firmly within the domain of electrified Chamber Rock. To put it in a more comprehensive way, the music embraces Belgian-school RIO, Art-Rock at its most avant-garde and Neoclassical with (corresponding) influences from classic Univers Zero and Present, vintage Gentle Giant and mid-‘70s-to-early-‘80s King Crimson, and finally Igor Stravinsky, though some metal-in-opposition, space-fusion as well as sympho-prog tendencies can in places be traced also, with some hints of Finnegans Wake, Gong and Kansas, respectively. Not counting the presence of some vocals on the disc opener (which are delivered still in a typically RIO fashion), the only more or less significant feature that sets the first three full-fledged tracks (Wzdy Czelestnik, Interrferrometerr and Meszuga Kleipulesa) apart from the four subsequent ones (The Augurs of Spring, Paralaksy Dyzaskorufin, Tripl Ratamaklie and Gargoyles) is their mood, whose relative lightness recalls U Totem, whilst the others are filled with a dark beauty. The compositions are highly complicated, since the five musicians all usually paint different figures, rarely playing in unison or returning to a previously paved path either, all of which is more typical of Neoclassical music than RIO, The Augurs of Spring, which is a rendering of an excerpt from Stravinsky’s “Rite of Springs”, and all the other, the band’s own, compositions being equally representative in this respect. Although Gargantua doesn’t hide its sources of inspiration (or, if you will, while the aforesaid influences are all detectable), their personality is also evident, throughout the recording, whose freshness comes to the surface as if from nowhere, i.e. exactly from the group itself. I only wonder why the titles of the tracks, the majority of which are instrumentals, are given in Polish instead of the international language of discourse, English. It’s often interesting to mentally draw parallels between the pieces’ contents and their titles – when the latter are comprehensible, and so can intensify the listener’s imagination, which is an essential part of the process of listening to music.
Conclusion. On “Kotegarda”, Gargantua appears as a group of highly experienced musicians of a world caliber, who never leave the sense that they’re sapping all their strength to be equal to the task they’ve set themselves prior to venturing on this affair. This is one of the most cohesive and at the same time cerebral RIO-related creations I’ve heard this year: Top-20-2007.
VM: June 22, 2008
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