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(54 min, Viajero Inmovil Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Fruhstuck 6:48 2. Autocritica 7:37 3. Memorias de un Pato de Hule 6:16 4. Russian Mountain 6:43 5. Hanoi 3:29 6. Melos per Manecia 8:04 7. Arsis 8:01 8. A Zurda y Siniestra 7:30 LINEUP: Jeronimo De La Arena - guitar Papo Manes - guitar Federico Caselli - bass Luciano Caselli - drums
Prolusion. Debut albums are currently falling as if from a cornucopia, so it seems there is still no end to novice progressive bands nowadays, thankfully, - the movement needs fresh blood, doesn't it? The heroes of this occasion are Argentinean quartet QUAKER and their first CD "Autocritica".
Analysis. I have no idea what meaning Quaker intended with their first brainchild's title ("Self-criticism"), but I think the album can be taken as a kind of excuse by the band to King Crimson for hacking:-) their music's structure with the purpose of using it - beginning with the specific guitar technique invented by Robert Fripp and finishing with the same Mr. Fripp's very own soundscapes. In terms of both composition and performance, Quaker are nearly on a par with their mighty preceptors in absentia (which is quite prodigally evinced on the best tracks here), but unlike those, they not too often venture on highly adventurous movements with eclectically-eccentric arrangements, precisely half of the disc's eight instrumental cuts being free of these. Hanoi and Arsis, the shortest and the longest track respectively, both aren't bad by any account, but are the least impressive anyway, revealing few original patterns. Hanoi sounds like a somewhat simplified version of Industry from "Three of a Perfect Pair", but while this tune is really short, the latter spreads over eight minutes, the music flowing fluidly throughout it. Besides, Arsis' central guitar theme, while being simple in itself, additionally running almost all through the piece, never changes its configuration. Memorias de un Pato de Hule and Melos per Manecia are both slow-moving and comparatively accessible tunes too, but then these stand out for their truly original sound, featuring too few influences to resort to any references here, stylistically steering somewhere halfway between guitar Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion. The title track and Russian Mountain, each begins with the typically Crimsonic interplay between guitar and bass, both also being notable for their keyboard-like solos elicited either via guitar synthesizer or a midi-guitar. Russian Mountain is in many ways a remarkable composition, but contrary to what its title suggests (the same as "switchback"), it evolves rather unhurriedly, reaching its progressively culminating point only closer to its finale. Instead, Autocritica finds the band at their most adventurous and skilful alike. This piece is like honey to my soul - an ever-changing pleasure, in its pan-musical appearance reminding me of a cross between Thela Hun Ginjeet and Neurotica, with the glissando guitar instantly evoking Elephant Talk, though there also are quite a few Prog-Metal-like movements which makes me think of the '90's King Crimson and their "Vroom" EP in particular. The opening number, Fruhstuck, is another piece that sends shivers down my spine, most often bringing to mind the title track of "Discipline". It is also abundant probably in everything that a truly progressive heart desires, being inferior to the previously described tune only in number of positively frenetic maneuvers. A Zurda y Siniestra concludes the recording upon the first spin drawing nearly the same picture as that of the title number - just with a lesser amount of hard textures. With closer listening however, an experienced progressive ear will soon notice that some of that tune's several thematic sections are just slight variations on themselves.
Conclusion. After reading the previous paragraph readers might think I have a mixed feeling about Quaker's debut offering, whilst in fact, I like the album very much, most of what's been said being by way of comparison rather than critical in intent. I find King Crimson to be just one of a few bands whose legacy still needs to be re-discovered, so I welcome most of their followers, in other words those who aren't blind imitators of their music. But while it's clear to me these Argentinean guys are not without original compositional thinking, their horizon being definitely much wider than that of the brainless imitators we often meet within Neo, I am really glad to have realized that "Autocritica" is an excellent beginners guide to the (brilliant, yet complex in comprehension) work of that English ensemble and, therefore, is an event of rather great importance. Recommended.
VM: March 7, 2007
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