LA DESOOORDEN, from Chile, is a septet of Alfonso Banda on electric and
acoustic guitar, Francisco Martin on bass and piano, Peter Pfeifer on tenor-, alto- and
baritone saxophones, Rodrigo Gonzalez on drums and assorted percussion, Benjamin Ruz on violins, and two singers,
Karsten Contreras and Fernando Tagore. The musicians only sent me their latest two
releases, “La Isla de los Muertos” (“Isle of the Dead”) and “Ciudad de Papel”
(“Paper City”), so this (sort of) overall review does not embrace their other two albums,
“El Monstruo de 7 Cabezas” (“Monster with Seven Heads”) and “Ensayo” (“Essay”), from 2001
and 2003, respectively. Besides the fact that La Desooorden will celebrate their 15th
anniversary next year, I have nothing to add to what has been said, as the CDs arrived without any supporting material, while the band’s website is in Spanish which I don’t speak or comprehend either.
La Desooorden - 2005 - "La Isla de los Muertos"
(47:48, ‘La Desooorden’)
1. Transformaciyn Del Mito 3:18
2. Pardos Fueron Frente al Mar 7:31
3. Algo Tenha Que Ver la Luna 3:14
4. Pero Dios los Visita 3:22
5. Me Pregunto Entre Todas las Preguntas 2:02
6. En Los Ojos de la Muerte 3:49
7. Caleta Tortel 3:27
8. Seguramente Encontraremos 5:25
9. Las Palabras Viajan en el Viento 5:25
10. Bajo Pisagua 4:20
11. Lo Que Ha Quedado Es Sólo Esto 5:49
Alfonso Banda – guitars
Francisco Martin – bass; piano
Rodrigo Gonzales – drums, percussion
Peter Pfeifer – saxophones
Benjamin Ruz – violins
Fernando Tagore – vocals
Karsten Contreras – vocals
The title of this outing (“Isle of the Dead”) invites comparison with Sergei Rakhmaninov’s – sublime – symphonic tone poem of the same name based on the well-known XIX Century painting by the Dutch artist Boecklin. The eleven tracks here, although varying in a number of compositional and stylistic characteristics, all reveal a one-of-the-kind creative approach which doesn’t seem to be peculiar to anyone else besides their makers. I’m not sure whether it’s fair to make any comparisons as regards this recording, but while there are indeed no obvious traces of others’ legacies here, there nevertheless is quite a large quantity of stylistic influences, most of which are easily determinable, so at least from this particular perspective I believe I can name some widely known bands as reference points. Performed without any percussion instruments at all, the disc opener Transformaciyn Del Mito has only piano, violin and theatric narration in the arrangement and is the only distinctly symphonic track here, with some twists from classical music. The two purely instrumental pieces, Caleta Tortel and Bajo Pisagua, are acoustic quartets for classical guitar, violin, saxophone and tablas, blending together symphonic and jazz textures as well as European and Oriental musical aesthetics in a Shakti self-titled debut kind of way (Shakti is a chamber jazz-fusion group formed by John McLaughlin in India shortly after The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s breakup in 1976). Overall, however, both can only be viewed as a quasi-symphonic take on that ensemble, since there are noticeably fewer genuine improvisations here. The largely acoustic Pero Dios los Visita would have been listed along with the instrumentals if it hadn’t taken the shape of a reflective (yet tasteful and melodically pleasing) fusionesque ballad in its finale, which in turn is the main point of the closing track Lo Que Ha Quedado Es Sólo Esto. The rest of the material is dominated by a full-bodied chamber-rock sound with only occasional moments of calmness, as well as purely acoustic interludes along the way. With the exception of the aforesaid Pero Dios los Visita, all the vocal tracks feature both Karsten and Fernando, who in most cases sing together, providing singular, harmonically unique chorals which are doubtlessly one of the trademarks of the band’s work. The complexity of the choir singing here (which is usually dissonant and theatric at once, like a cross between Gentle Giant and Queen in a way) helps the music sound compelling even when those behind it play Funk, as they from time to time do on both Algo Tenha Que Ver la Luna and Las Palabras Viajan en el Viento; though overall these are very decent compositions, not too strongly inferior to the winners which are yet to be named. Combining progressive rock writing with a kind of bizarre arranging and jazz-fusion instrumental valor, Pardos Fueron Frente al Mar may suggests something halfway between King Crimson’s “Discipline” and Gentle Giant’s “Three Friends”, proving the band’s versatility on all levels. All these characteristics seem to be fully suitable concerning Seguramente Encontraremos, Me Pregunto Entre Todas las Preguntas and En Los Ojos de la Muerte as well, though on the other hand they somewhat fail to present all that these three compositions have to offer. The point is that each of these additionally contains quite a few avant-garde and at the same time texturally hard RIO-like movements (the latter two, both being parts of the same monolithic piece in fact, are especially rich in those) that bring to mind already mid-70s King Crimson, classic Gentle Giant and even Etron Fou Leloublan, and it’s here where the band is especially tight as well as inventive. All in all, this is an excellent recording, perhaps bordering on a masterpiece, the four tracks described last, as well as the three instrumentals, all having enough depth behind them to reveal something new when being revisited again and again.
La Desooorden - 2005 - "Ciudad de Papel"
(62:00, ‘La Desooorden’)
1. Fumarolas del Alma 7:32
2. Ciudad de Papel 6:56
3. El Llamado del Totoral 2:28
4. El Gran Acuerdo 3:50
5. Migraciones Eternas 7:23
6. Voz de los Niños 2:50
7. Acciyn por los Cisnes 6:51
8. Tralcao 3:08
9. Hominidos 3:51
10. Los Trabajadores 6:12
11. Esto No Es Un Juego 4:10
12. Boletos Para Ir 6:40
Henry Veliz - trumpet
Having changed its sound almost beyond recognition, compared to “La Isla de los Muertos”, on this album La Desooorden once again appears before the listener as a creatively free-thinking band that doesn’t recognize any fixed stylistic frameworks. Featuring somewhat fewer violin patterns, but more saxophone lines (overdubbed in the studio, these are often multi-tracked, a bit more frequently ‘doing’ unison leads than ‘pushing’ themselves into different directions), “Ciudad de Papel” is overall a much heavier and busier musical affair than its predecessor and has a glaring gothic, at times pronouncedly hypnotic, quality to it. With a broad range of sonic architectures that suggest Van Der Graaf / Generator’s “The Quite Zone”, “World Record” and (occasionally) “Pawn Hearts”, King Crimson’s “Discipline”, Tiamat’s “Wildhoney” and “A Deepest Kind of Slumber”, Soft Machine’s “Bundles” and “Seven” and even “Turn Loose the Swans” by My Dying Bride, this recording is tough to detail, so I’d better beware of doing a track-by-track investigation here. It’s generally hard to classify this music, let alone label it with any single term, the quantity of artists and creations listed serving as evidence of the sextet’s breadth of thinking rather than indicating their influences – just like in the case of their previous release. Seven of the twelve tracks here, Fumarolas del Alma, the title piece, Migraciones Eternas, Acciyn por los Cisnes, Hominidos, Los Trabajadores and Esto No Es Un Juego, each can be chosen as a good example of the album’s prevalent picture as well as the band’s current multi-genre palette which includes that eccentric Art-Rock, roughly speaking, whose brightest two representatives are listed first above, Jazz-Fusion, progressive Hard Rock and Doom Metal, all the styles sharing the space between them within each of the said compositions. On the other hand, however, each of those has something that is peculiar exclusively to it, like blues- or techno metal-inspired moves, almost operatic or odd ritual-like vocalizations, to name a few features. On the first two tracks the group is more often focused on the depressive, mournful mood than on the others, while in terms of progressiveness none of those are inferior to their brothers in style, let alone the remaining five pieces. The concluding track, Boletos Para Ir, can be presented as being the same for this disc as Afterglow is for Genesis’s “Wind & Wuthering”, while in fact it refers to the quieter side of Van Der Graaf, falling almost squarely between “The Pleasure Dome” (side B of you know what) and “Still Life”, in this particular case the comparisons being inevitable. Even the vocalists’ parts are in places as dramatically hysterical here as Peter Hammill’s, though their singing on this CD is generally different from that on its predecessor and, while being still excellent in terms of delivery, is overall somewhat more conventional, depending for the most part on what is the basic musical style at every given moment. Tralcao is a queer mix of African and Eskimo native melodies and Spanish vocals. The only track involving piano, Voz de los Niños draws a pastorally-kindergarten picture with a large children’s choir singing to the accompaniment of the aforesaid instrument. Of the two instrumentals, El Gran Acuerdo is a groovy, swingy tune with plenty of unison and the like (in fourth or fifth) solos, while El Llamado del Totoral is a piece for drums and tablas. Thankfully the four weaker tracks only last for 12 minutes collectively, while the entire disc exceeds an hour in length. All in all, I only regret the absence of any avant-garde, chamber-rock and purely chamber arrangements here, though I welcome the band’s new discoveries, as those are mainly much to my taste as well.
Revealing originality as well as a range of styles that few modern bands could easily match, La Desooorden is definitely one of the most inventive progressive rock acts to come out of South America in the new century, appearing also as a striking example of the trans-genre approach. Both recordings are highly recommended.