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Kotebel - Omphalos CD (album) cover

OMPHALOS

Kotebel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.92 | 73 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ShW1
4 stars The cover art is very impressive: a man sits in the center, only his back is shown, his arms stretch out, surrounded by astronomy bodies. Omphalos means navel, the center of the world. The CD itself shows a mosaic with a Hebrew text, which means "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; Let them also that hate him flee before him" (taken from psalms chapter 68, I found it via internet). I guess this is one of the plenty Hebrew mosaics all over Spain. There are additional cultural icons and nationalities that appear on the cover, I've recognized some Egyptian, Greek and Indian icons, which go all around the world. Some may say it's too much.

The content of the album itself is also very impressive, but unfortunately there are some flaws, which prevent the album from soaring, and fulfill its potential.

But let's talk about the pros first: Kotebel is an ensemble which includes three solo instruments: two of them are the flute and the female vocalist. The electric guitar plays lines occasionally, sometimes as solos, sometimes as background. Flutist Omar Akosta is a fantastic player, very skilled, and he stands with honor in the highest classical standards. His sound, feel and articulation are one of the best I've ever listened to in prog music.

The vocalist Carolina Prieto has a classical approach too. Guitarist Cesar Garcia Forero gives a good counter balance to the classical side of the group, with a dose of Rock feeling and sound. The major background is given by the bass, drums, and keyboards. This is their forth album and the first one I'm listening to.

The main composer Carlos Plaza creates excellent compositions, well crafted, with complex structures and yet very moving. He has the ability to take all those good elements from the 70's prog along with jazz rock elements, add a strong Spanish flavor to it and build from that his own compositions in his own original style.

"Pentacle suite" is the main composition: it contains seven different pieces that most of them are dedicated to stars. Each piece could stand on its own, yet they complete each other in a wonderful way to a strong, cohesive composition, with great melodies, interesting harmonies, some nice modulations and excellent development, without being over the top.

Some examples: "Shanti Path" fits perfectly its name: quiet, entangled melody that slowly develops up to the climax. To the sun Carlos P. dedicated a jumpy rhythmic piece with some nice unisonous between the flute, bass, and guitar. Mars is fascinating, based on a strong beat, given by some snare hits on odd time signature, in a quite turbulent atmosphere. Near the end of the song there are beautiful climaxes and tensions which create contradictions between quiet elements played mainly by flute and acoustic guitar, and loud elements where the rest of the band joins in. These moments gave me some nice shivers.

So it could be really a great album but unfortunately the sound and production, made by Carlos P. himself are quite sloppy. It could be better if he would leave the sound and the production to someone else, more professional in these matters. There are too many things that do not go well, including a distortion of the keyboards from time to time, impropriate balance, muddy sound, so that sometimes it's difficult to trace each instrument. Also the ensemble doesn't sound tight enough to my ears, there are certain places in which they don't 'sit' together well enough. Sorry but these things are annoying, reduce the enjoyment and prevent the album from achieving its full potential. That's a pity.

Nevertheless I gave it a four stars rating, because it still deserve it IMO. It's a very enjoyable album and I recommend it, especially for those who are interested in Spanish classical sound along with rock feeling and great compositions, to check this one out.

ShW1 | 4/5 |

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