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October Equus - Hydra CD (album) cover

HYDRA

October Equus

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For October Equus, "Hydra" was the anticipation of the excellent musical manifesto that would soon be properly incarnated in their eponymous debut album released in 2006. As a limited-edition independently released demo (distributed among concert attendants and currently out of print), "Hydra" offers the listener a taste of the band's RIO style, based on a serious refurbishment of the genre (mostly inspired by Henry Cow and Present), with added touches of the densest side of King Crimson's tradition plus a penchant for heavy-esque guitar sounds and oppressive keyboard ornaments. What can one expect from "Hydra" when it is more likely that the listener in question has already gotten acquainted with the "October Equus" album? Well, for starters, a less polished sound production and a more synthetic approach, due to the fact that the drummer used an electronic drumset for this demo. The reason for this was that the band thought that it would be much cheaper to record, but anyway, that's what happened. The setlist is also different, which shows that the 6-part suite (here, sans 'Fields of mars' and 'End: On a Lance') had not fully developed its sequence yet. The namesake track kicks off the album on a powerful note, although it is noticeable that the instrumental ensemble isn't all that successful in conveying what soon will be their signature sinister mood. The main factor lies in the electronic drumset, no doubt about it. Tracks such as 'Lupus in Fabula', 'Reliqua Tempora' and 'Bigas' reveal that the guitar and keyboard inputs don't get to express their full potential of sonic power. This is a particular handicap for the latter, since its main motif is based on a ceremonial horse race, but on the other hand, keyboardist Víctor Rodríguez manages to provide some pertinent eerie adornments. This works definitely better for the two 'Sacrificio' tracks. Concerning the most energetic moments in the album, still we can find a reasonable dose of the band's somber stamina: 'La Cabeza del Vencedor' benefits from the consistent use of distortion on Amanda Pazos' bass. This is not an essential recording, indeed, but it is valuable as a testimony of October Equus' stylistic development. If you're a RIO-head and already love this band, don't hesitate to ask your prog friend if they can give you a burnt copy of this item for your birthday or something.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#161188)
Posted Thursday, February 07, 2008 | Review Permalink

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