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Kotebel Ouroboros album cover
4.06 | 134 ratings | 7 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Amphisbaena (7:28)
2. Ouroboros (16:07)
3. Satyrs (7:26)
4. Simurgh (13:09)
5. Behemoth (7:40)
6. Legal Identity v1.5 (3:54)
- Bonus track - Recorded at Gouveia Art Rock 2001 :
7. Mysticae Visiones (live) (16:23)

Total Time 72:07

Line-up / Musicians

- César García Forero / guitar, keyboards (3)
- Carlos Plaza / keyboards, piano solo (3)
- Adriana Plaza / keyboards
- Jaime Pascual / bass
- Carlos Franco / drums, percussion

- Carolina Prieto / vocals (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Nacho Hernández Roncal

CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4798 (2009, France)

Digital album

Thanks to kuwert for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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KOTEBEL Ouroboros ratings distribution

(134 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KOTEBEL Ouroboros reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a glorious perpetuation of the sort of musical magnificence that we, Kotebel followers, have come to naturally expect from this excellent Spanish-Venezuelan ensemble - "Ouroboros" has to be one of the most outstanding symphonic prog releases in the year 2009, and why not, extensively in the new millennium. For this concept-album around a bunch of mythical figures, Kotebel operates as an all-instrumental quintet with featured room for dual keyboards, which means that the flute and female vocals are now absent in the band's sonic arsenal; but, in the end, the absence of these two items that had been so immensely relevant in the band's previous two efforts ("Fragments of Light" and "Omphalos") has been efficiently compensated by the remaining instrumentalists. The musical ideas remain equally inventive and the instrumental amalgamation continues to be grandiloquent in its infinite elegance. Indeed, this "Ouroboros" album is a total master opus for our current times' progressive rock scene worldwide. 'Amphisbaena' opens up the album with tenuous textures during its brief introductory theme, until the whole ensemble kicks off and settles in through the colorful display of the fusion-friendly motif. The combination of jazz-rock ambiences and Gentle Giant-ish tricks, when merged into the overall symphonic framework, results in an abrasive exhibition of excitement and grandeur. The interplaying among the two keyboardists is effectively massive, with virtuosic guitarist César García Forero spreading his eclectic input all over the place, complementing the keyboard developments and playing amazing leads. The piano-dominated passages during the track's last third states a proper expectation for the coda, wich starts ethereal and ends quite bombastic. A tremendous opener such as this can only be followed by a suite, and so Kotebel deliver the namesake track, which lasts 16+ minutes and comprises 7 sections. This intensely progressive journey is a constant climax of textures, orchestrations and controlled exhibitionist deliveries: the main motifs are clearly signaled, with variations and jams that go on succeeding each other in a perfectly fluid fashion. The melodic sense is brilliant, the harmonic sensibility is flawless, and both prove to be a demanding thing particularly in those passages in which the band uses a dynamic mixture of chamber-rock and jazz (i.e. 'Variation II'). 'Variation IV' is built on soaring atmospheres that may remind us a little of "Incantations"-era Oldfield, although the moment in which the lead guitar and drum kit settle in makes the track move toward momentary bizarre moods. The next 'Variation' is patently more evocative: it starts with a piano solo, then a soft orchestration is set in to evolve into a special climax, bombastic but not overdone. The punchy swing of 'Variation VII' gives way for a vibrant passage whose clever articulation allows to build a well-ordained crescendo, which ultimately leads to a 'Coda': this one culminates the overall suite's architecture on a melancholy note, yet evidently energetic in its own terms. Following this suite is a dirty job to do, but it is left to 'Satyrs' do it, and it does it by going to a different territory. 'Satyrs' is more guitar-orientated than the preceding two pieces, and it is less pompous as much as it is rockier. There is still much musical complexity to rely on while listening to this track: there is a funny tango-based interlude, for instance, and there is also a slow-paced psychedelic that provides an ounce of grayish density right before the splendid closure. The album perseveres in its wonderful majesty with the other suite, 'Simurgh', perhaps the most purely symphonic track in this catalogue: there are some Latin-jazz cadences utilized strategically in places, but they mostly serve as vortexes of varying dynamics to enrich the main motifs? developments within a consistent eclecticism. 'Behemoth' is quite awesome, a special favorite of mine. It bears a stylish tension that owes quite much to the Scandinavian standard of Crimson-inspired retro prog: the big beast after which this track is entitled meets an adequate musical portrait, featuring mellotron-like washes, eerie dissonant guitar phrases and a slow, heavy rhythmic scheme. The track's overall mood is surreal in the sense of a weird dream, almost mystic, consistently mysterious. The studio tracklist ends with 'Legal Identity V', plethoric and bombastic without any boundaries, which is reasonable since its 3+ minute span can clearly allow the musicians to think less about constraint and more about explicit expression? in typically progressive terms, of course. The bonus track is quite long, a live rendition of extracts from the "Mysticae Visiones" suite (from the namesake album) as it was delivered at the Gouveia Art 2007 festival. This item conveniently shows the listener all about the power and color that this band solidly displays in live performances; it is also a sweet reminder of the important input that the female vocals and flute used to offer to the band's whole framework in earlier times. All in all, and paying focusing my attention on the studio tracks exclusively, I?m prepared to give this album a 5 star rating. "Ouroboros" is indispensable in any good symphonic prog collection.
Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Laced with exotic melodies and a quite naturally a Spanish flavor, this is a brilliant and wildly creative venture. The biggest downside for me are the disjointed arrangements- there's an awful lot of "start-stop" antics, particularly in the longer tracks that really interrupt the flow. However, the musicianship is top-notch, and there's so much to appreciate here. For those desiring something beyond run-of-the-mill symphonic music, this is a great acquisition.

"Amphisbaena" After a light synthesizer introduction, things get going. The Mellotron is something of a dissonant aspect to an already dissonant set of riffs, and I cannot help but think of the introductions to "Heart of the Sunrise" by Yes, and I even hear elements of Tales from Topographic Oceans when it stands alone at times. Later, dark piano, bass and drums provide the rhythm for a spiraling series of synthesizer runs.

"Ouroboros" For the lengthy title track, steady bass underlines lengthy notes on the guitar and Mellotron just prior to trickles of dual guitar and synthesizer. There are some jazz and fusion elements to this piece which arise unexpectedly, full of walking (almost running) bass and plenty of snappy drumming. Soon that sole Mellotron reenters, this time holding things down for menacing bass, electric guitar, and synthesizer leads, while the absence of the drums only serves to make it more alarming. The repetitive guitar runs do get annoying though. I think this piece runs far too long, but that still doesn't make it any less a reason to remain enthused.

"Satyrs" The bass stands out the most on this wild ride. While it serves the purpose of allowing the other instrumentalists to perform, the bass very often (usually during the transition to the next measures) lets rip an amazing riff or growling slide. The piano is the other standout instrument, adding something of a mild Latin flavor. Compositionally, I find little to like, though. The music is by and large all over the place and extremely difficult to follow. Furthermore, just when the music comes to a natural conclusion, there is a pause of a couple of seconds, and the band starts playing again, except it is rather unrelated to what came prior. In fact, during that last couple of minutes, it sounds like they are starting a new track about three or four times.

"Simurgh" Everything softens up a great deal on this lengthy track. The very prominent Mellotron is in choir mode . After a piano interlude, the tasteful guitar takes over, playing lengthy notes interspersed with speedy, but subtle runs. Altogether, this is another somewhat disjointed track, but somehow the musicianship makes up for it, especially in the piano and synthesizer department. Drummers and drum-lovers should appreciate the solid work and few solos throughout.

"Behemoth" Plucked acoustic guitar carries on while some dissonant sounds work on top of it, but while those sounds suddenly stop, the disharmonious nature of the music does not. Electric guitar and high-pitched synthesizer. The piece is loaded with Mellotron, piano, and whistling synthesizer, but it retains a devilish air, full of minor and diminished chords.

"Legal Identity v1.5" This short piece begins softly, mainly led by percussion, but eventually is likewise feverish and dark-sounding, this time with synthesizer and what sounds like a thin chapel organ running over a hellish piano. I don't care for this composition much at all, but thankfully, it's a rather brief foray.

"Mysticae Visiones" The jazzy fare returns here, with each instrumentalist taking a short turn to solo. The guitar solo following the jazz is a noteworthy shred-fest, full of lightning-fast playing that suddenly slows down to gentle swells over washes of that seemingly ever-present Mellotron. The bass in the rhythm role is outstanding, managing to play the same few riffs over with subtle variations that keep it fresh and interesting. The only voice on the album is a wistful one that comes from an enchanting female over gentle piano. The piece is really two pieces, I think, because of the lengthy break in between, during which the audience applauds the band's performance. And then the band stops and starts again, just as the fade starts, which seems a tad silly, given that this is a live track, after all.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Ouroboros Spanish symphonic proggers Kotebel have delivered one of the outstanding releases of 2009. An improvement over their previous studio album Omphalos, which while being good, was marred by operatic female vocals which were a bit overpowering for me. They only briefly appear at the end of the album here, the rest of it being instrumental. Ouroboros is darker sounding creating more musical tension than its predecessor and with a harder sound.

The seven compositions including three pieces around the 15 minute mark are complex, dense and atmospheric, skilfully executed with lots of dynamics where the powerful interplay between electric guitar, keyboards and the versatile rhythm section gives way to melancholic restraint. The music constantly shifts through varying themes and time changes with pleasing melodies, always maintaining the listeners' interest.

There's no doubting the musical pedigree of these excellent players as they create their largely symphonic prog with some fusion thrown in for good measure. I'm reminded to some extent of Syrinx only with electric guitars replacing the acoustic favoured by the French quartet.

Ouroboros is an album I've constantly returned to over the last few months, never tiring of it. A great one to turn out the lights and chill out to. Highly recommended.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Wonderful high-energy prog bordering on jazz-fusion from Spain's best. This album notes the loss of OMAR ACOSTA's amazing flute play as well as, sadly, the amazing voice of operatic singer CAROLINA PRIETO (thought she does perform on the bonus "live" performance of the epic "Mysticae Visones"), but the band still manages to produce mind-blowing songs, sounds, and play--much of which is on the same level and style as that of the 1978-79 quartet known as BRUFORD. Bassist-extraordinaire Jaime PASCUAL is really on fire throughout! And the PLAZA family father-daughter keyboard team (Carlos and Adriana) is really stepping up their game. The only thing lacking, IMHO, is a little more melody to keep the listener engaged.

1. "Amphisbaena" (7:28) faultless, virtuosic musicianship over this dynamic song. Some nice melodies to latch onto. (13.5/15)

2. "Ouroboros" (16:07) César Garcia Forero's guitar competing with both Adriana and Carlos's synths is stunning! Then piano and xylophone take over the battle with Jaime's bass and César's guitars joining in. At 3:45 César introduces the melodic hook around which all else is then built--picked up by Carlos during a spacey interlude before Jaime, César and drums rejoin. Things pick up and even get a little frantic in the fifth and sixth minutes before a real slow down in the seventh which turns into a kind of freaky walk through some kind of house of mirrors or eerie dark alley. When the piano leads the band back into a nice forward pace in the tenth minute, the new music has an interesting ELP jazziness to it--a circular piano theme that affects the whirlpool of music played by all of the other musicians over the course of the next four minutes. When the piano the big bass chords to bring it all to an end, the other band members have to stop and come to terms with their new surroundings of spaciousness. Guitar, Mellotron, and bass lead the way into a new Crimsonian weave to the song's ultimate and surprising end. Not the most melodic of song suites, this is more than made up for by the fact that there is the sense that a real story got played out here. Amazing! (27/30)

3. "Satyrs" (7:26) cool drumming and bass playing with abrasive and Hammond organ leading the way. The second minute sounds as if Robert Fripp was having one of his angular chord fests: "Which dirty/raunchy chords can I throw together to rile up the audience (and other band members)?" There's a real 1970s YES "Close to the Edge" feel to this music. I keep expecting in the frequent little pauses a bank of harmonized boices to sing, "Ahh!" Interesting, to say the very least. Let's call it, "The Solid Time of Change, II." At first I wasn't really liking this (the sound palette) but ended up loving it! (14/15)

4. "Simurgh" (13:09) a minimalist start with piano and percussion arpeggi repeating in an odd time signature while drums, bass, and guitar try to work their way into the weave. César Garcia Forero works in some of the catchiest melodies and lead guitar play to ever grace the Kotebel discography until the end of the fourth minute when a shift in pace and motif drives the music forward from the potent playing drummer Carlos Franco. Hard-hitting piano and bass accent and support Carlos' driving play while César picks up his lead deliverance of melody and fire. In the eighth minute, piano and bass really shine (Jaime is on fire!) within which we get a whole passage in which César's Allan Holdsworth-like playing meshes with the Plazas' keys and Carlos and Jaimie's drums and bass, respectively, giving it such a sound like something from the 1978-9 BRUFORD ensemble. Wonderful stuff! Great finish! (23/25)

5. "Behemoth" (7:40) slow, plodding start with deep low ends and ear-piercingly high piano and synth play open this for the first three minutes. Jaime's rolling bass play is so perfect for a lumbering beast, and the odd panning synths give it such a mysterious feel. In the fifth minute Jaime is pretty much given the lead while the rest "join in" and act as if following or attacking the beast. Occasional pauses make one wonder what is happening, but the classical-sounding piano play is so captivating and beautiful that one forgets (and, frankly, doesn't care), but then Jaime's personalized bass returns amidst curtains of synth washes and cymbal crashes while César and Carlos Plaza seem to portray the trail of destruction the beast (inadvertently?) leaves in its wake. Cool theme music for a Godzilla-like scene. (13.5/15)

6. "Legal Identity v1.5" (3:54) a repetitive BRUFORD "Hell's Bells"-like full-band weave of ripping-fast staccato notes is stripped down to piano only for a minute or so in the third minute so that Carlos' synth rapier can do its work. Back to the frenetic "Hell's Bells" weave for César to deliver not one but two stunning Allan Holdsworth-like soli. Not so melodic but impressive as hell playing. (9/10)

- Bonus track - Recorded at Gouveia Art Rock 2001 : 7. "Mysticae Visiones" (live) (16:23) an epic suite from the band's 2002 release of the same name, here we have César playing, as he does on the studio version, at his breakneck, frenetic speed, while Carlos Plaza's keyboard chord play supports. The presence of Adriana's piano, Carlos Franco's drums, and Jaime's virtuosic bass play give this such fuller dimension than the original. Then, of course, we are graced by the incredible vocal talents of Ms. Prieto as she mesmerizes like a siren with her vocalise. The following sections are noteworthy for their "normalcy" that is, their display of (relative) simplicity. In comparison to the compositonal complexity and instrumental difficulties of their more recent songs, one can determine just how far the band (and Carlos) have come in their musical and compositional evolution. Theere are parts that play out just like jazz passages, with the band pretty much setting up for other members' solos, sometimes playing some fairly simple and straightforward chord progressions--something the band post 2008 never does. Again, every part of this performance only holds light to the fact of the band's tremendous and exponentially expansive growth; what was a collective of fledglings in 2001 are now a celebration of virtuosi!

Total Time 72:07

In my opinion, from 2006, with the release of Omphalos, to 2017, when the band released its fourth album, Cosmology, no band in Prog World released a quadrille of albums on as high a level as Kotebel, and though this album gets less return visits from me than Omphalos or 2012's Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble, the quality of play from all musicians involved has never been higher than it is on Ouroboros.

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music--music that would be loved by any and all who like and appreciate complex, virtuosic performances in the same vein as BRUFORD, UK, ÄNGLAGÅRD, and THIEVES KITCHEN.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars KOTEBEL are a band out of Spain with a leader from Venezuela and I have had a hard time getting into their classical style. "Ouroboros" is the first album by them that deserves 4 stars in my opinion. They had already released four records before this 2009 release, the first three getting overall ratings of 3 stars or below on tis site. The fourth album "Omphalos" is where we get a spike in ratings to an almost 4 star average, quite the improvement but it's an album I gave 3 stars to. So I basically gave up on them until I started hearing a lot of positive things about their 2017 release "Cosmology" which I bought and gave it 4 stars then I went back and picked up a couple of their earlier studio albums I had missed including this one.

Man this is a really consistent album which I like. Yes we get that Classical sort of base here created mostly by the piano but the bass is absolutely huge, just a pleasure. Guitar is awesome as well as he changes it up quite often and the guy can play! Drumming is good but really it's the piano and synths that sort of drive this record. Lots of atmosphere created by the keyboards on here. This is all instrumental unless you count the vocals on the bonus track which I don't because, well it's an extra. This is one of those rare albums where every song is really good. All in the same style pretty much. The opener is all about the bass and atmosphere while the title track opens with this dark bass lines followed by guitar expressions and atmosphere as our 16 minute trip just gets started. The bass is massive on "Satyrs" I mean come on! A powerful tune with a cool piano break after 2 minutes before it gets fat again right Simon? That closer "Legal Identity" is special with that UNIVERS ZERO-like section. The previous two tracks are both top notch as well.

Easily 4 stars and with "Cosmology" my two favourites by them.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The Spanish progrock band Kotobel prooves that almost 40 years after the birth of the progressive rock, bands are still able to make progressive rock in the true meaning of the word!' In 2017 Kotebel released their latest (7th) album entitled Cosmology , this is a look at their fifth, my favour ... (read more)

Report this review (#1914160) | Posted by TenYearsAfter | Friday, April 13, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I had luck to get this album quite close to the release date. Thanks to the archives I saw it on the new album list, clicked into the band site, and realized that the band previous album, 'Omphalos' is now pressed on (limited addition) vinyl! I grabbed it immediately, and added the new one int ... (read more)

Report this review (#231552) | Posted by ShW1 | Friday, August 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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