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Rivendel - DHD CD (album) cover

DHD

Rivendel

 

Neo-Prog

3.83 | 38 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rivendel from Spain took their sweet time in proposing their next opus, a labor of love that took pretty much 19 years to germinate and produce. Their previous neo-prog recording was in 1996 entitled "the Meaning', which met with milquetoast response and then, they rested for a spell. The long gestating "DHD" offers a completely different slant, perhaps not even neo-prog anymore but a rather original and complex form of crossover/symphonic work that is rich, diverse and challenging, as it incorporates a vast panorama of styles that will also immerse in electronics, folk, blues, zeuhl and RIO. There are a whole series of interesting details that make this such a strange animal, such as the lack of any drummer, using only three musicians on three epic tracks, all instrumentals. DHD stands for the latinized version of the Spanish expression decíamos ayer (dicebamus hesterna die) or "we were saying yesterday" is used in Spain when one wishes to make passing acknowledgement of a long silence or absence without actually discussing or even mentioning the interruption. As if those 19 years just went by in a flash!

On the expansive 20 minute + title track, time has melted away with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. Crafty guitarist Tonio Cruz, keyboardist Oscar Bielo and bassman Jose Mari Aguirrezabala provide all the sonic exploration, with perfectly blended instrumental diversity, wah-wah pedalled guitar phrasings, festooned with rolling fuzz organ and burping bass guitar incursions. There are definite Canterbury influences, obviously without the quirky British humor in the lyrics, as Bielo does a fine salute to Ratledge, Stewart and company...As the path develops further, the mood becomes challenging as the dissonance, the quirkiness and the seemingly free jazz elements kick in with resolute fury. Poignant, disturbing as if in some somber sci-fi horror movie soundtrack, the emphasis on disturbance is overt and creative. This will find approval from the real far-out prog fans out there. At the 15 minute mark, there is a definite zeuhl sensation, with a strong expression of glancing unease and even infernal hallucination. It slowly gentles itself out, becoming more fluid and pastoral, as if bridging the chasm of time successfully. Definitely NOT neo-prog!

"Cows on Prairie", is perhaps a song dedicated to the few prog fans like me who inhabit Calgary, Canada, the home of the Stampede and where there are a lot of cows and a lot of prairie! The cowbells effect is awesome, the mooing sounds are very similar to my neighbors' endless moaning (LOL) and the sprinkling of acoustic guitar phrasings adding to the bucolic feel. A dozen minutes of contemplative surrealism, as if Dali was painting some fireball grange in the foreground, keeping his tight Vaselined pencil mustache in full erect regalia. Eerily weird, squalls of mellotron and seagull screams combine to clutter the horizons, meditative and reflective, ghostly romantic and melancholic. Cruz shows off his skills with unabashed zeal, with great picking as well as deft tonal work that borders psychedelia. Pools of e-piano from Bielo add mystery and imagination. Ardent Country music fans must stay away from this psychotic brew or risk being lassoed to the whipping post.

As mentioned by other reviewers, there is a definite Kafka?esque quality here, a sense of foreboding that inspired other writers such as Poe, De Maupassant, my fave Theophile Gauthier and many others who did seek out deeper realms of the mind and body, where reality and fantasy often copulated unashamedly. This sentiment is perfectly evoked on the final track, the "Metropolis" of Fritz Lang fame, a Utopian world of benign dictatorship with idealistic zeal and yet total subservience among the mistreated workers underground. The clash of the privileged elite above and the starving masses below. The music serves as an apocalyptic soundtrack that would do the classic movie justice. The mood is almost Magma ?like (without Vander's tectonic drumming), where derelict synthesizers duel with distraught flute, choppy guitars that echo incessantly, rasping bass and despairing dissonance.

This is not AOR, easy listening morning drive radio or a series of ballads. Its NOT neo-prog . The music on DHD is demanding, bitchy, nervous and relentless, requiring patience, observation, open-mindedness and a certain appreciation of the 'beyond'. Big surprise, this!

4.5 Moments in Time

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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