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iX - 2006 - "Ora Pro Nobis"

(54:42 / Musea Records)


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TRACK LIST:                   
                               
1.  Ore Pro Nobis 1:53
2.  The Expert 3:41
3.  Seven Pillars of Wisdom 6:31
4.  Keila 2:11
5.  Ocaso 4:48
6.  Hombres Honorables 8:25
7.  Radiante 7:53
8.  Warriors 5:56
9.  The Promised Mind 8:50
10. Invocando a la Luz 4:31

LINEUP:

Cesare Della Noce - keyboards, piano
Angel Echevarenera - basses 
Pedro Castillo - guitars 
Ricardo Parra - drums
Edith Salazar - vocals
Isabel Roch - trombones
With:
Many other participants
    

Prolusion. Although coming under the moniker of IX (pronounces as "ai-eks"), "Ora Pro Nobis" is in fact the first solo album of Cesare Della Noce - a Venezuelan keyboardist and songwriter, of Tempano fame. Apart from being the creator of all the material, Cesare is the only of the project's numerous participants who plays on each of the ten tracks present. In the lineup above, I've listed only those musicians whose contribution to the recording's performance department is more or less solid, and two of these, bassist Angel Echevarenera and guitarist Pedro Castillo, are members of the same Tempano as well.

Analysis. I believe quite a few of you, dear readers, are in the know that Della Noce is one of the primary masterminds behind Tempano. So the first thing to say is that there is nothing on "Ora Pro Nobis" that at least even remotely resembles the work of that band. Furthermore, this music is so unusual that I was kind of taken aback after the initial listening to the CD and am up till now not quite sure whether I will be able to properly describe it. Well, this problematic:-) album comprises three songs (Ocaso, Invocando a la Luz and Warriors), two voice-free pieces (Keila and Hombres Honorables) and five so to say quasi instrumentals (the title opus, The Expert, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Radiante and The Promised Mind) where there are no vocals as such, but are narratives, exclamations and, sometimes, vocalizations. I will begin with the pieces whose architectonics are totally transparent for me, and such are present in each of the three categories. The nearly 8-minute Radiante is the sole track here that I find to be annoying. The first four fifths of its content are just a set of electronic effects, quite a fair quantity of which are low level, some being almost beyond hearing. One has to be very patient and tolerant alike to get as far as the track's finale (a powerful male wordless choir hovering over a dark keyboard canvas) after all those sound experiments. To my personal way of thinking, Ora Pro Nobis is musically rather empty as well, but thankfully is at least short. Apart from a large mixed choir (dissonant by the way), there are an endless number of narratives on that tiny cut, all that verbal polyphony-meets-cacophony unfolding over marching drums. There is a dim thought glimmering somewhere in the attic of my memory that the track's title is linked with a church, so maybe those who, unlike me, know its meaning will perceive Ora Pro Nobis better than I. All the other tracks are either good or at least acceptable - such as Keila, which is a piece of piano music, both slow and plain. Ocaso is a fine piano- and strings-laden symphonic ballad with a full-band sound, although the powerful female singing reminds of jazz vocal school. The remaining six tracks, Hombres Honorables, The Promised Mind, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Invocando a la Luz, The Expert and Warriors, all include a wide variety of different musical directions: electronic, symphonic, jazz, hard, blues, ambient, pop, world, Spanish, Latin American and Negro ethnic tunes, with occasional classical-like and avant-garde tendencies. While the innovativeness of all these compositions is beyond question, not everything goes off smoothly in their arrangement department. In their overall appearance, most of them are too mosaic, if not just motley, defying any generalized classification, save maybe, such an unwieldy one as post-modernist experimentally-collective hybrid cyber Prog. On its stylistic level, the music often tends to be anarchic, though on a couple of those pieces there also are quite a few episodes that are rather formless compositionally. Besides, while consisting of numerous different themes, those are somewhat lacking in inner unity, so their eclecticism seems to be artificial rather than natural. Nevertheless, despite all the said criticism, each of the aforesaid six songs possesses something that makes it sound attractive - perhaps it's just their uniqueness. Opening the line of stylistic cocktails, Hombres Honorables begins with slowly moving orchestral arrangements backed up by the trombone and drums and concludes in the style of symphonic Doom Metal, whilst the track's core part embraces most of the aforesaid directions which, in turn, is what all the yet-to-be-named pieces are generally about, so I will only mention their most striking peculiarities. The Promised Mind stands out for its country-style harmonica solo that runs almost all through the cut, regardless of any changes in theme etc. Seven Pillars of Wisdom at times positively rocks. Invocando a la Luz, The Expert and Warriors are all notable for their numerous acoustic guitar solos, particularly those in the Flamenco manner. The latter is largely instrumental and is the most diverse and, at the same time, most cohesive composition on the CD. If at least the six longest tracks had been as well structurally balanced as Warriors this album would've been a Masterwork, with a capital letter.

Conclusion. "Combining incompatible things" could've be an apt epigraph to "Ora Pro Nobis". The music is never genuinely complex, but due to its highly collective nature, is rarely instantly accessible either. By the way, there is quite a lot of common ground between "Ora Pro Nobis" and "God's Garden" - the first album by the other Tempano side project, Odrareg. I think those who like the latter creation should be satisfied with this CD as well. Otherwise, try it before you buy.

VM: May 9, 2007


Related Links:

Musea Records
iX


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