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(58:19, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Psicorickshaw 8:07 2. Bholenath 4:58 3. Meetings at Dawn 1:36 4. Kali Destruccio 5:13 5. Kali Lament 3:08 6. Abstract Passage 1:25 7. Tangle 6:04 8. My Being Forgets 3:48 9. Infinite Intuition 8:16 10. Electro-rain 1:46 11. Segments 10:32 12. Diving Deep 3:18 LINEUP: Andreu Mendez – el. & ac. guitars; keyboard; Theremin; vocals Furmi Gomez – saxophone, flute; steel guitar Marc Prat – el. bass & contrabass Fede Marsa – drums; percussion
Prolusion. Although Spanish band SOMA PLANET celebrates their 15th Anniversary next year, “Bholenath” is only their second CD, five years separating it from their self-titled debut release.
Analysis. That being said, this recording consists of very short to moderately short to mid-length to semi-epic compositions, though I agree this info can be put without pseudo-sophistication. The twelve tracks here vary greatly in length, ranging mostly from minute and a half to 8+ minutes, with one composition ‘pretending’ to be a near-epic. Four of the pieces feature vocals with English lyrics, which I’ll leave without comment, above all because most of those are more than largely instrumental. Propelled by dynamic and at the same time highly diverse drumming, the longer tracks, Kali Destruccio, Tangle, Psicorickshaw, Infinite Intuition and Segments, are all notable for their complex interlocking guitar, sax and either bass or contrabass lines as well as high level of energy, which is especially striking on the first two, since quite a substantial part of each finds the band rushing and rumbling like a racing car in a way. With the exception of Segments, which for the most part sounds original, and yet at times somewhat featureless, all convey much of the fascination of King Crimson (think all albums from “Larks Tongues in Aspic” to “Three of a Perfect Pair”) with some echoes of classic Gong at their most hard-edged, though it’s only Furmi Gomez’s saxophone that makes the implied connection by blazing on these. On the other hand, the sax also brings a healthy dose of zeuhlish-meets-avant-garde King Crimson poignancy in here. Add to all this the fact that the guitar technique of bandleader Andreu Mendez evokes either Robert Fripp’s or (less often) anyone else’s and that the described tracks cover three fourths of the recording, and you’re well aware of Soma Planet’s primary influence. Nevertheless, there are a number of moments on each that display the band’s own, at times clearly unorthodox approach to composing and arranging, particularly many on the already-mentioned Segments for sure. In the end (especially if you ignore certain borrowings), those five are all excellent, highly impressive compositions, full of twists, traps and pleasing undercurrents, to put it briefly. The two moderately short pieces, the title number and My Being Forgets, are the only tracks here on which Mendez’s use of keyboards is obvious. Richest in acoustic instrumentation, both offer relatively atmospheric, yet fairly lush symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Space Fusion and some hints of “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. Unlike the other two, this band isn’t credited by Soma Planet as one of their mentors, whilst on two more tracks, Meetings at Dawn and Kali Lament, the influence of Pink Floyd is all-absorbing. Well, just noted in passing, as both are fine pieces overall, not without vintage charm, which is generally quite typical of this output. As for the remaining three cuts, Abstract Passage, Electro-rain and Diving Deep, all of them are reasonably short. The first of these, despite its title, is a quite refined contrabass solo (played with a bow) to the accompaniment of congas, while both the last two come across like an excerpt from King Crimson’s Neurotica (“Beat”) and Industry (“Three of a Perfect Pair”) respectively.
Conclusion. Despite the presence of some derivative features, this is a highly impressive recording whose makers not only shine with their technical mastery, but also have a sense of measure and therefore taste as well. I can’t give this disc the highest rating, but I sincerely recommend it to anyone into complex Progressive. Fans of King Crimson should certainly be the first to check it out, since Soma Planet are weightier than mere renovators of the living legend’s classic legacy.
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