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Electro Compulsive Therapy

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Mexican progressive rock quartet make an impressive debut release ? managing to show their musical influences whilst uniquely combining them in a fresh and approachable way.

It really is one of the great joys of life when you suddenly discover a quality band for the first time, embark on discovering their back catalogue and subsequently travel forward with them with subsequent releases. It is even more exciting when you are fortunate enough to pick up on a band from the start of that musical journey, especially when you imagine hardly anyone else knows about them.

That is the situation I find myself in with Electro Compulsive Therapy, after being invited to listen to them a few weeks ago. Purely from the name I imagined them as some experimental electronic project, or maybe even an extreme progressive metal band. The old idiom 'never judge a book by its cover' was confirmed, once again, as I let the music wash over me.

Formed in 2016, Electro Compulsive Therapy are a progressive rock band from Monterrey, Mexico, comprising of four experienced musicians: Guillermo Garcia Herreros (lead vocals and keyboards), Andres Jasso (guitar), Rodolfo Gonzales (bass guitar) and Javier Villareal (drums and percussion). Between them they create melodic, atmospheric prog rock, with contemplative and melancholic vocals, flowing, dirge-like and hypnotic passages along with soaring instrumental guitar and keyboard excursions layered over a strong and solid rhythm foundation.

Whilst they do wear their musical influences on their sleeves across most tracks, they have mixed them into a fresh and appealing concoction, which is both unique and approachable. I hear Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Airbag, Anathema and Pink Floyd overtones, but then there are hints of latter-day Bowie and Marillion, Talk Talk, Edge-like U2 riffs, Joy Division bass runs and maybe the atmospheric, understated sparseness of Nick Cave in the emotive vocals. Chief songwriter Guillermo is not afraid to soak up his influences and yet produce a progressive rock soundscape to appeal to followers of the bands mentioned above. He will even throw in a Mellotron passage if it complements the atmosphere generated.

This debut release kicks off the Glow. It is not only a strong opening track but sums up the signature style you can expect to follow. From an atmospheric piano-led introduction, clean, plaintive vocals are joined by a powerful guitar passage over a solid bass and drum support. A nice change of tempo half-way through sets the scene and as the lyrics "?remember on your way up the lights begin to fade, on your way down the cracks begin to show" are followed by the inevitable build-up to a rich conclusion of swirling keyboards and climbing Floydian guitar motifs.

The 2-part epic-like Colors Fade Away starts serenely as Guillermo almost whispers the memorable chorus "All the colors slowly fade away. All the memories burn like cigarettes" ? and as the volume rises, we get some lovely and melodic guitar lines before the mood darkens. There's Porcupine Tree Anesthetize-style ensemble work with Rodolfo and Javier building an impressive rhythm, closing with a reprise of the lyrics and a well-pitched guitar solo from Andres. For a song almost 10-minutes long, I would have liked it to have extended and developed even further ? and a live setting could be a perfect way for this track to reach even greater heights. Excellent stuff!

Blackstar has a haunting, unsettling acoustic piano theme with atmospheric, distorted vocals before the music takes off fully. Siren- like keyboards are followed by dark bass-led instrumentation before a stunning guitar solo brings things to a climax. There is a slow return to the hypnotic initial theme but the guitar maintains its presence as the keyboards provide an understated layering through to the conclusion.

Gemini starts with a lethargic, melancholic, Pineapple Thief feel, quiet piano building up to atmospheric guitar runs from Andres. Guillermo's vocals have depth and confidence and complement the musical feel very well. In Through the Light maintains the wistful atmosphere, and maybe here the Steven Wilson-influence is strongest. The guitar continues to be used to lift the music above the deliberate weariness the instrumentation and lyrics create very successfully.

Walking Ghosts is more uplifting and builds up rather nicely from delicate, melodic tones to a U2-style anthemic conclusion. Less prog and maybe an indie-pop feel, but it provides a refreshing contrast to the last three tracks. Stand Wait and Transcend maintains the slow to mid-tempo beat, but it is lifted to more proggy heights by some lovely atmospheric, Mellotron passages (always a winner with me!).

The final track, Supernova, provides an uplifting, though wistful, Airbag/Riverside-style conclusion with all the elements that have come before taking us to a satisfying and melodic finish. "When enough is enough, we step out of the darkness into the light".

For a debut release from an independent prog band from Mexico, I think this is a fine, professional effort. The standard of musicianship is very high indeed and the song writing is strong with a maturity not seen by many such new bands. Putting my ultra- critical hat on, I could suggest many songs follow the 'quiet piano start, building up to the powerful, guitar-led climax' template. Maybe a bit more variety of pace and power could also be added ? but in all honesty, I really am nit-picking to the extreme. This is a lovely album.

The debut release from Electro Compulsive Therapy is quality fayre and highly recommended! There is more than enough for a prog listener to get a lot of pleasure from in a professional and atmospheric album. Guillermo is a talented leader, supported by excellent and experienced musicians. These guys need supporting and I will certainly be looking forward to seeing them progress and build upon this in the years to come.

(From The Progressive Aspect)

Report this review (#2587115)
Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review # 116

As I wrote in one of my previous reviews, I really enjoy discovering new bands/artists that have some pottential and they have something fresh to offer. That's the case with Electro Compulsive Therapy, a new band from Monterey, Mexico.

They were recommended to me, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by their debut self-titled album. Wonderful compositions, very good and "tight" orchestration, and great vocals by Guillermo Herreros. Yes, I can hear influences by other bands from time to time, like Pink Floyd and/or Porcupine Tree for example, but it doesn't really matter, because they are few, and do not spoil the songs. You just hear a riff, or a keyboard sound here and there that reminds you of some other band, but that's it. As far as I understand, all 4 musicians are very talented and skilled and their performance is excellent! I don't want to mention each song separately, because all are very good. Yes, some of them are better perhaps, but there is not even one song that you will have to skip. Personal Favourites: Glow, Colors Fade Away, Blackstar, Stop...Wait and Trascend.

I strongly recommend the album to everybody who is fond of this kind of music, because in my opinion, this is the BEST release of 2022 so far! I am very serious about that and I am not trying to advertise it. (Why would I?) Do yourselves a favor and at least listen to this album! Then, you will decide for yourselves if it's worth buying it or not. Speaking for myself, I already have the digital version, and I am waiting for the CD to arrive. Congratulations to E.C.T for this really great album! I hope they will continue like that in the future! My Rating: 4.5 - 5.0 Stars.

Report this review (#2699761)
Posted Sunday, March 13, 2022 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The debut progressive rock album release from a quartet of veteran Mexican rockers from Monterey.

1. "Glow" (6:02) opens like a PORCUPINE TREE song until the more classic-rock-oriented vocals enter, then it sound almost like a cross between Black Sabbath and some kind of Southern grunge rockers. (The music when there are no vocals, however, are very much in the PT wheelhouse. Not very complex musical construct, the synth solo in the fourth and fifth minutes is pretty original and cool. I'm less impressed with the AIRBAG/Southern Rock-like guitar solo that follows. (8.75/10)

2. "Colors Fade Away" (9:53) sounds like a beginning band's first attempt at a mellow long-playing song. Comes out more in a style like a 1970s Southern rock band's ballad(think mellow side of LYNYRD SKYNYRD). It's melodic but rather plodding and simplistic/straightforward. The transition in the sixth minute to a more "Sky Moves Sideways" sound and style with a Thomas Thelen vocal styling is interesting but eventually boring. I do seem to like the vocal arrangements during the multi-voice passages. (17/20)

3. "Blackstar" (8:27) again I am drawn to Thomas Thelen comparisons with the opening of this one. As the song develops, it does so so simply and rudimentarily that it almost puts me off. A sparse keyboard passage at the beginning of the fourth minute fills me with hope, but the instrumental passage that follows disappoints big time. The vocal chorus that follows is also far beneath hopes and expectations, but the mellower guitar tone and solo used in the sixth minute is much better--and gets better as he gets warmed up, channeling a little David Gilmour, even.. (16.5/20)

4. "Gemini" (5:05) more of a soft bluesy grungy song, even after the 2:25 mark when the RIVERSIDE-like instrumental passage opens up. Again, the lead guitarist is showing more stylistic and sonic talent. (8.5/10)

5. "In Through the Light" (7:41) More of a beginning attempt at a Riverside song. Way too elementary. (12/15)

6. "Walking Ghost" (4:44) another song that falls close to the early Thomas Thelen sound--with a little CURE guitar, U2 chord structure, and church Hammond added as it goes--alls topped off with an BJÍRN RIIS-like solo in the final minute. (8.25/10)

7. "Stop... Wait and Transcend" (6:42) a mid-PT (before Deadwing or In Absentia)-like song. In the third minute it slides into a more classic rock ROXY MUSIC or U2-like song. The fifth minute brings out some of the best music of the album: great drumming with a keyboard, bass, and guitar weave that develops into some very nice Mellotron and guitar solo weaving. Almost Trespass-era Genesis! Great finish. (8.5/10)

8. "Supernova" (5:51) gentle whole-band music supports a tender vocal--maybe Guillemo Garcia Herreros' best vocal style of the album--which, unfortunately, slowly deteriorates as he gets more impassioned and dynamic. Could be from an ARIBAG album. The fourth minute sound additions and rhythm are awful, even when the guitarist tries going crazy--there's just something really off in the mix of the soundscape. This could have been the best song on the album but it's unpolished, poorly engineered sound make it seem rushed and under-served. (8.5/10)

Total Time 54:25

Music that sounds like it comes from a band that is just starting out. Complexity has not arrived (and may never--which is perfectly fine/their choice), yet there are enough refreshing ideas to warrant paying attention for future releases. I think I'd categorize them more in the space/psychedelic rock sub-genre even though they're based in some deeper, grungy/bluesy classic rock stylings. I think their engineering choices need to step up a little too: the drums don't sound right and the mixes are often a little a little unpolished. The vocalist is adequate but not great and lyrically they could use some help, as well.

C/three stars; while no masterpiece or even an album deserving of "highly recommendation," this is an interesting debut that warrants attention for future potential.

Report this review (#2851122)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2022 | Review Permalink

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