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Kotebel - Omphalos CD (album) cover

OMPHALOS

Kotebel

 

Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 68 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Spanish-Venezuelan band Kotebel has delivered quite a magnificent symphonic opus for the current times: 2006 is made a great year for prog music thanks to splendid works such as Kotebel's "Omphalos". This is a band that I've just come to discover in recent weeks, and I've learnt to appreciate their musical vision very quickly. In fact, this album has grown on me since listen one despite its complexity and challenging exquisiteness. The Ancient Greek mythology alluded in the album's title is correspondent to the colorful bombast displayed throughout the repertoire, but that's where all connections stand. The album's overall sound is based on a fluid condensation of your typical pompous, well-crafted symphonic prog and the sophisticates meanders of stylish jazz-rock, plus various exotic sources that come into the fold now and then. The input of the two keyboardists serves as a recurrent nucleus for the development of the tracks' motifs, but the flute and the lead guitar are mostly the instruments with a major presence on the fore. The excellent opener 'Ra' comprises an exciting diversity within a frame of perfect cohesiveness: the hooks and inventive surprises are well administered across its 13 minute span. Everything works well here: the dialogues between the two keyboardists, the playful lines on flute, the energetic guitar phrases and solos, the tight rhythm section, Carolina Prieto's pleasant contralto timber. The follower 'Excellent Meat' keeps up the pace of creativity with a harder edge, yet not entering the hard rock territory, but staying, to a certain degree, closer to the more energetic aspect of Gentle Giant style - the main merit for this goes to the multiple keyboard amalgams. This track also includes a soft interlude based on dual acoustic guitars, which brings a flow of serenity before the closing reprise of the initial motif. 'Pentacle Suite' occupies six tracks, that is, six individually titled sections. Starting with a brief exotic opener (very reminiscent of Amarok's Arabic excursions), the comes 'Sun Pentacle', a mesmerizing example of good symphonic prog with clear jazzy nuances. 'Mercury Pentacle' turns into bucolic territory, emulating Anthony Phillips and Mike Oldfield at their most introspective. The alternations between voice and flute are magic and mysterious, which is coherent with the track's tenuous cosmic aura. The last minute bears a moderate climax, not disturbing the ambience. The flute-cello intro of 'Venus Pentacle' is segued, creating a solid expansion from there, an expansion that includes elements of South American folk. 'Mars Pentacle' kicks off with a 7/8 bass riff, soon joined by the whole band. The ensemble recovers the sense of energy and counterpoint-based complexity that has characterized some parts of the brightest previous tracks. The Epilogue section is delivered on a slow tempo, which facilitates the cinematographic pomposity that is so usual in progressive occasions like this. Bearing the burden of following the suite, the three remaining tracks (the first two, instrumental) happen to be effectively appealing on their own terms. 'MetroMnemo' finds the band exploring their jazzy side a bit further - in fact, guitarist César García Forero makes his guitar sound in a very Holdsworth-ish way. 'Joropo' is a number constructed on a 3/4 tempo in a mood typical of the Venezuelan folk dance after which the track is called. This is not really a fusionesque track, but a stylish reconstruction of Latin American folk under symphonic rules. Finally, the title track closes down the album in a melancholic mood, which is given a mysterious flavor thanks to the captivatingly weird chord progressions that conform the main motif and Prieto's evocative singing. The guitar textures also help very much to build the track's proper atmosphere. This is a great closure for a great album: "Omphalos" is a masterful treasure not to be missing in any good progressive collection.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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