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(53:49, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Somnis Lliures 2:50 2. Cami Sonor 5:43 3. Coese Que Passen 3:50 4. La Corrupcio De L'enyor 3:20 5. Les Caldered D'en Pere Botero 6:04 6. Les Oliveres D'en Joan 5:22 7. El Patufet Va Amb Vespa 6:32 8. Tormentes De Diners Amb Fang 5:16 9. Truita De Tortuga 4:23 10. Juga'mi 4:55 11. A Dormir 5:34 LINEUP: Oriol Arranz - electric & acoustic guitars; vocals Xavier Parera - electric & acoustic guitars Jordi Garcia - bass; vibraphone; vocals Raimon Iniesta - drums Victor Nin - guitar
Prolusion. Formed in 1995, the Spanish group GURTH has been around for quite some time and has become a tight and skilled outfit in the thirteen years since its foundation. But although highly skilled and experienced, the band has never gotten around to releasing an album until now, when the Russian label MALS has seen to it that their debut "Tormentes" has become available to the world at large.
Analysis. Gurth is one of many bands around that have been influenced by King Crimson. A strange way to start an analysis perhaps, but the sound of these British progressive rock legends seems to have made a lasting impression on the minds of the musicians in Gurth, especially the ones handling guitars. Staccato, melodic and slightly disharmonic riffs in a manner similar to Robert Fripp can be heard on most tunes on "Tormentes", with the opening track Somnis Lliures being a prime example of that. Atmospheric, drawn-out solo guitar licks are another feature of this particular composition, which has a mood pretty similar to King Crimson's releases from the early eighties. Cami Sonor follows with more guitar licks from the Fripp technique of playing, but here jazz influences and horns make the influences slightly less obvious. Coese Que Passen introduces another central influence in the music made by Gurth, 70's jazz-fusion. To my ears the name Al Di Meola pops up when I hear some of the guitar soloing here, as well as the percussion and keyboard textures. La Corrupcio De L'enyor blends the influences already mentioned with slight symphonic elements and blues-tinged guitar soloing, and Les Caldered D'en Pere Botero incorporates sounds and riffs in a manner quite like Black Sabbath to the mix. Les Oliveres D'en Joan is a mellower affair, mixing fusion influences with blues-tinged guitar, while El Patufet Va Amb Vespa is a more energetic piece, bringing together jazz fusion features and the aforementioned King Crimson-inspired guitar work. This composition leads directly into Tormentes De Diners Amb Fang, a dark and eerie tune where the band takes their influences on a trip to the twilight zone of RIO, as well as adding some Latin dramatics to the song. Truita De Tortuga is another piece mixing jazz-fusion influences with riff patterns Robert Fripp might have created, while Juga'mi removes most of the fusion edges to the music and adds in some nice keyboard textures at the start and the finish. A Dormir ends the album on a different note entirely, with some excellent interplay between acoustic guitars and saxophone in a mellow and atmospheric composition. Despite some obvious influences, Gurth have managed to make a fascinating debut album. The tunes are adventurous and the structure and development are more often than not unconventional enough to be surprising. And there are nuances to the songs as well, minor influences I can't pinpoint that do add up to the tunes being much more than just music influenced by this and that. The artists and styles that have inspired the band are distinct and obvious though, and while the nuances may not be picked up by every listener, they will notice that the tunes sound fresh and have a strong groove. Most of the songs here are excellent and there are even some moments of brilliance in the compositions Somnis Lliures, Tormentes De Diners Amb Fang and A Dormir.
Conclusion. A very solid debut album by this Spanish band that has a pretty good chance of being liked by fans of jazz fusion as well as King Crimson. The slight disharmonic nature explored may also make this release interesting to people into music filed under zeuhl, RIO, and avant-garde.
OMB: April 14, 2008
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