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5 stars The first thing I must say is that this album must be taken off from the classification of neo-prog. This is not. Maybe "ecleptic rock" or "avant rock" is a better identification. After nearly 20 years comes this third album from the Donosti (Spain) band, Rivendel. If you have already listened to some of their two previous albums.. forget them. This follows a completely different path. Only three tracks. All instrumentals. One of them last more than 20 minutes and two over 10, involving a whole kaleidoscope of sounds where multiple references appear in a more conceptual than literal way. In my opinion, nowadays, it is virtually impossible that a group practising fully instrumental music posseses a "completely original sound". Perhaps this is neither the case, but, even when you can find references, I think that Rivendel, with this album, have got an universe which is more particular than the one they offered in the previous discs. I said "references", and, it's true, here you can find echoes from David Gilmour (more than Pink Floyd) at the beginning of the first track or, even,Tangerine Dream further in the same track. In the second one you can find sounds from the most atmospheric side of Pink Floyd. But they are only sound flashes integrated on a completely differente unit. Anyway, my favorite track is the last one, "(die von maschinerive) Metropolis". A track where they play a strange game with the tension between impressionists and expressionists sounds. References that probably are more explicits if you take a look to the cover, where Jose Mari Aguirrezabala has used images from the Wiene's film: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari . An special reference to the instrumental palette. Bass, keyboards and guitar. No drums anyway. This is important because the sound in this album is very particular. An instrumental album like this, rather than show its content in the first listen, trends to "suggest" moods and, in this regard, it's easy to imagine it as a struggle between darkness and light. If there is a moment that exemplifies the album for me it is the end of that first track. You can imagine that moment as a canvas where Monet and Kirchner were painting together. Congratulations, Rivendel. This is by far its better album. An album you must listen to.
Report this review (#1504034)
Posted Saturday, December 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars After listening three times this album I'm still very surprised. First track (+ than 20 min) begins like warm, organic symphonic prog. But very different elements slowly make presence. From blues to electronics, from RIO to chamber, even Zeulh. The music becomes a labyrinth where the listener visits different corridors and chambers. Still everything is related somehow, a part of the whole thing. But you can't find the keys to put things together until the closing parts of the song. Ashtounding! Second track (12 minutes) seems much more calmed, even ambient music. But there's a feeling of inconvenience, a dissonance here and there. A feeling of no escape, like if you are on a Kafka or a Lovecraft story. That's the general feeling of this album. Third track (+10 minutes) is once again a very different proposal. It seems like a sound motion of the fight between industrial machinery and oppresed workers Or this is what the tittle, Metropolis, suggests. In the middle part of the song there's a terrible fight where once again Rivendel become deliciously chaotic. But in the end it looks that there's not a real winner for this battle. A very interesting album that is far from the prog mainstream. Like another reviewer says, this has absolutely no relation with neo-prog (as the band is tagged). Very recommended but be aware that this is not an easy listen.
Report this review (#1508683)
Posted Friday, January 8, 2016 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#1550755)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2016 | Review Permalink

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