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篾GEL ONTALVA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Spain


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聲gel Ontalva picture
聲gel Ontalva biography
篾GEL ONTALVA is the guitarist for OCTOBER EQUUS and recently released his first solo album, Mundo Flotante, in 2012. For the album he is accompanied by almost all the current members of his band. However, the sound is quite different. The album consists of instrumental jazz-rock that runs through soundscapes with echoes of African, Arab and Oriental music. Intricate chamber music compositions alternate with collective improvisations weaving a sound tapestry full of color and shades.

According to Ontalva, the Mundo Flotante project came about originally in 2007 as a result of a failed attempt to reunite Transarabian Connection, another of Ontalva's projects, a band centered around a mixture of fusion, modern chamber music, and Sephardic music. A week before the reunion concert was to take place, there was a divergence of opinion as to the direction of the music which led to the singer leaving. Unable to read Arabic lyrics, Ontalva decided instead to pull together several fragments and unfinished compositions, which over the course of the next week became the basis for the Mundo Flotante project. The material was presented live over the next few years and finally recorded from 2009 through 2012.

Although different from OCTOBER EQUUS, the Mundo Flotante project shares much of the same sense of adventure and wonderful soundscapes of that band, incorporating instead Oriental themes and taking a much more relaxed approach. This project led to the creation of another, called Ofir, after the main suite of songs on the Mundo Flotante album.

[Todd]

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篾GEL ONTALVA discography


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篾GEL ONTALVA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.30 | 35 ratings
Mundo Flotante
2012
3.00 | 6 ratings
Land Of Rain And Steel
2013
2.50 | 4 ratings
聲gel Ontalva & Vasco Trilla: Aceite De Perro
2013
2.67 | 3 ratings
聲gel Ontalva & Alfonso Mu隳z: 帄tasis Y Tormento De Camilla Sodoma
2013
3.50 | 4 ratings
K-Faces Suite
2014
4.07 | 26 ratings
Tierra Quemada
2015
4.00 | 8 ratings
聲gel Ontalva & No Grooves: Blood Moon Tonight
2017
3.99 | 97 ratings
聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina
2018
3.00 | 1 ratings
Two Black Holes and A Closed Door
2018
4.07 | 5 ratings
Olkhon (as Seaorm)
2020
3.78 | 43 ratings
聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Sada
2020
4.50 | 2 ratings
Songs to Say Goodbye
2021

篾GEL ONTALVA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 4 ratings
En directo en El Arco de la V甏gen (With Marc Egea)
2013
2.67 | 3 ratings
En directo en el Festival L​.​E​.​M. (With Vasco Trilla)
2013
2.67 | 3 ratings
Soda
2015
4.00 | 1 ratings
聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Sea Orm Liventure
2018

篾GEL ONTALVA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

篾GEL ONTALVA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

篾GEL ONTALVA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Las Ocasiones Perdidas / Isla Purgatorio
2013
3.00 | 1 ratings
Tiempos de furia (With Marc Egea and Vasco Trilla)
2013
3.00 | 1 ratings
Roads to Sunrise Cities
2020

篾GEL ONTALVA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Sada by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.78 | 43 ratings

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聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Sada
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Although both 聲gel Ontalva and Vespero were active in their own right (and in Ontalva's case there was also an October Equus album) following from the release of 'Carta Marina', they came back together in 2020, and the result is 'Sada'. It was exactly the same line-up of musicians, but this time the avant-garde Vespero and RIO Ontalva took the music in a somewhat more measured direction than last time. There is more space in this album, and it does not feel quite as compressed and frantic, as if there were more thought and care combined with a stronger sense of direction. Mind you, for all that, they lose none of the complexity and the listener still never knows where the music is going to take them.

Violin often combines with guitars, following the melody while the rhythm section keep it tight and keyboards provide a backdrop, yet there are others where all hell breaks loose and no-one knows who is going to take control. Contrast that to "Her Eyes Sparkled in a Strange Way" which has a beautiful introduction with picked guitars, shining and vibrant violin, with the bass and drums only coming in after a few bars, keeping it mellow and delicate. One of the real delights of this instrumental album is that one never knows where it is going to go, as both Vespero and Ontalva are well- known acts in their own right, in slightly different fields, so they both compromise and learn from each other as they also do not know what the final result is going to be like. Both these albums are absolutely essential, and I certainly hope this collaboration is going to continue in the future.

 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.99 | 97 ratings

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聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Over the last few years, I have come across a couple of Vespero albums. This Russian avant-garde group has made a huge impression on me with the likes of 2020's 'The Four Zoas' which I described as deep, meaningful and superb, so when Ark asked if I would be interested in hearing more of their material, I was of course intrigued, especially as the first two albums I listened to were a collaboration. 聲gel Ontalva is guitarist with October Equus but has also released a series of solo albums, often with other musicians, and 2018's 'Carta Marina' was the first of these with Vespero. The Carta Marina was the first map of the Nordic countries to give details and place names, initially published in 1539, and that is the inspiration for an enthralling release.

While Spaniard 聲gel Ontalva has more of a fusion style, Russian group Vespero are far more avant-garde in their approach, but somehow, they manage to keep it all together and create something that is vibrant, exciting, and always pushing forward. The Vespero line-up were Alexander Kuzovlev (guitar, mandolin, mixing), Alexey Klabukov (keyboards, synth), Vitaly Borodin (violin, dictophone loops), Arkady Fedotov (bass, synth, noises) and Ivan Fedotov (drums, percussion), so we not only had two guitarists with distinct styles but there were other lead melody instruments involved, and the trick was to keep it going as a harmonious whole. The result is an album which toys with the weird and discordant yet tends to keep it controlled and not as free wheeling as one may expect. This is massively complex music, with incredibly fluid lines from Ontalva, and although I believe this was recorded separately, one can imagine everyone in the studio just bouncing ideas off each other. One of the things which really stands out for me with this collaboration is that it does not sound like one: this feels very much like a single band pushing out and creating new direction and styles.

One never knows where this music is going to lead, or who is in charge, as ideas bounce between players, seemingly directed in one area and then it turns and moves in on itself as the living form takes control. This is an incredibly impressive piece of work, exciting, innovative, and essential.

 Olkhon (as Seaorm) by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 5 ratings

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Olkhon (as Seaorm)
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

In 2020, I reviewed Sada, the second collaboration between the Spanish jazz fusion and RIO guitarist 聲gel Ontalva and members of Russian psychedelic space-prog rockers Vespero. I made the comment that I have enjoyed several of their releases, but somehow missed their first collaboration. Needless to say, after thoroughly enjoying Sada, I did indeed go back to sample the delights of Carta Marina (2018). One of the tracks on that album I enjoyed the most was Sea Orm, so it probably comes as no surprise that when I saw that this third collaboration between 聲gel and Vespero was made under the name Seaorm, my interest was piqued even more than it might have been otherwise. The reason for this is presumably because Seaorm includes only two members of Vespero, and I hope it is also because this trio will continue to make further releases under this name ? because Olkhon is a fabulous album!

I'm somewhat indebted to Asian Death Crustacean, too, as their 2020 release Baikal led me to read more about this great lake, so that I recognised the names Olkhon, Lusud-Khan, Angara and Shaman Rock. That recognition and knowledge, along with the cover art, the name the trio had given to themselves, and the musicians that made up that trio, all added up to a whole heap of excitement and anticipation for an album I'd not yet heard a single note from. I was aware that I already had such high expectations, I might well be disappointed. Of course, you will have gathered already that this was far from the case.

If we consider Lake Baikal to be an inland sea, then Lusud-Khan is the Sea Orm that inhabits it. An orm is a serpent or dragon, and Lusud-Khan is the mysterious monster that is said to inhabit Baikal. It provides an eerie, almost primeval opening to Olkhon, and fluid, watery notes that are reminiscent of Sea Orm from Carta Marina, before moving into an almost post-rock groove with eastern notes reminiscent of Asian Death Crustacean's Baikal ? which came as a complete surprise to me. Now there's absolutely no way Asian Death Crustacean could have had any way of knowing what Seaorm would sound like, and I am quite sure the members of Seaorm have no knowledge of Asian Death Crustacean. So what this says to me is that both bands have done a terrific job of giving a sonic description of Baikal. Even though they are completely unrelated releases, I can't help but think of Baikal and Olkhon as being yin and yang, and (respectively) physical and spiritual descriptions of the lake, the land, and the people of the Baikal region.

But I should probably return to the music of this release. Walking on Water is almost the antithesis of the swirling depths of Lusud Khan. Given any religious sense in this album comes from shamanic rather than Christian imagery, I presume this is more a reference to being able to walk on water, as much of Baikal freezes enough to enable one to do just this. It's a pleasant and upbeat number, which manages to sound magnificently windswept, thanks to instrumental theatrics. Indeed, the use of the instruments to portray the weather is one of my favourite aspects of this album, as it gives a real sense of place. On this track, and throughout, Ontalva's guitar playing is sublime, and definitely deserves greater recognition. I love the tone of his playing.

Tail of the Dragon immediately sounds more mystical again, and has an almost Krautrock feel to it. (I said almost!) I love the insistence of this number, and already ? only three numbers in ? the variance in sounds, moods and textures is amazing. Of course, Baikal is a vast expanse, so we should expect the musical soundtrack to it to be equally vast. I swear I can almost hear the eagles of the cover art on this track. The percussion is sharp and snappy. Beware this dragon's tail! Is the dragon Lusud-Khan, or is it the dragon whose tail is said in some stories to be have created the lake? The latter seems more likely, but if I'm honest I don't really feel like I need to know. I just like to enjoy the ride.

Rather than the ice circles the song is named for, Ice Circles reminds me more of the circular ripples that spread out from a stone thrown into water, growing bigger and further out. It just seems to become bigger the further through it one gets. There's certainly no sense to me that the track is going to become as great as it does, from its relatively humble (and beautiful) beginnings. It takes the melancholic opening to Demons to bring me back to earth. Though I've not mentioned Ark and Ivan Fedotov yet, they definitely do provide a lot to Seaorm. You cannot say that this is just Ontalva's vehicle (indeed, though I've not yet listened to it, there appears to be an earlier version of this album credited to 聲gel Ontalva and Ark Fedatov, called Shaman Rock.) Ivan Fedatov's drumming in Demons is definitely impactful and enjoyable. This carries on into Kiss of Betrayal, where the rhythm section provides vital tension.

There are hundreds of rivers that run into Baikal, but only one that flows from it ? Angara, said to be the sole daughter of Baikal, when the lake is personified. Depending on which version of the tale one reads, it has either a happy ending, or a sad one. Seaorm's depiction seems to favour the sad, but this is some of the most beautiful melancholy you will listen to. Short and sweet. I love it. A Stake In Her Soul isn't much longer, but couldn't sound more different. Is this stake in her soul Shaman Cliff, which stands at Angara's source, as a permanent reminder of her father's wrath? Again, like Tail of the Dragon, I don't care to reconcile the ambiguity. There is magic in retaining a little mystery, and A Stake In Her Soul is definitely magical: compelling and enchanting.

Thus we end at Shaman Rock, which could be either the aforementioned Shaman Cliff, or Shamanka Rock on Olkhon ? formerly known as Shaman Rock. Given the title of the album, the latter makes more sense, but coming after the twin tales of Angara and A Stake In Her Soul, a case could be made for the former, too. The answer is probably revealed in the cover art, and I could probably look up photos of the two Shaman Rocks of Baikal to see which is depicted. But, as you've probably guessed, I don't actually want to know the answer. Almost every number on the album has the potential for dual meanings, and I revel in the ambiguity this provides. I love the mystery and the magic, and the way the music can be interpreted in different ways. It's suitably shamanic and spiritual, leaving listeners to take from it what they wish. I sincerely hope Seaorm is not a one-off, for on the basis of Olkhon, I definitely want to hear more of what this trio can offer!

 Olkhon (as Seaorm) by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 5 ratings

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Olkhon (as Seaorm)
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars When avant fusion and space rock collide! After the release of 'Carta Marina' (2018) and 'Sada' (2020) this album showcases a new collaboration of Spanish guitarist 聲gel Ontalva and the Fedotov brothers Arkady and Ivan, bestknown from the Russian band Vespero. In this case Ontalva directly pulls the strings, has decided to start a new project just named SEAORM. The album title 'Olkhon' points to a quite big island situated in the Baikal Sea. While considering the cover image, well, here we have the mystic Shaman Rock in the background. And this also mirrors the presence, the clearly visible signs of chamanism, everywhere you are. Siberia's landscapes are marvellous, if you like endless surroundings.

A very impressing experience, I recommend to take the chance, as long as you're having the possibility. It's the vastness of nature, without seeing any glimpse of civilization all around, in most cases at least. Especially the Baikal Sea region is matchless, for what it's worth. Ontalva's compositions are inspired by these scenes in a clear way. A melancholic journey, with Demons as one obvious reference for example. I can sense it somehow, head cinema every time when listening. His guitar playing fairly steps away from a strict avant jazz oriented attitude, overall the sound is getting closer to the Maat Lander project. With other words, this is more of a psychedelic space rock trio at place here. Who would ever refuse having the Fedotov musicians in the crew for some recording sessions? You won't fail.

'Olkhon' shows an entertaining and multi-varianted performance by this three musicans. Lots of spheric synth patterns are serving a somewhat spaced-out mood all over. Accentuated as well as lively bass and drum work, a worthy rhythm support for Ontalva's highly anticipated emotional and technical performance. Exemplarily I would like to emphasize the closing song Shaman Rock. I mean, this really puts the cherry on the cake, the album masterpiece for sure. It's a typical hybrid of space and jazz rock respectively fusion, sums up the global cinematic attitude this release is providing throughout. 4.5 stars.

 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Sada by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.78 | 43 ratings

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聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Sada
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars "Uwasa No Onna". I was curious about the title of the first track of the second collaboration between Angel ONTALVA, guitarist of the RRIO band OCTOBER EQUUS and the Russian VESPERO. Well, it's the title of a Japanese movie of 1954 about a widow who becomes a geisha: "The crucified woman". Having not seen the movie I don't know how much this track describes the movie, but it's dark and melancholic, built around a bass line with jazzy percussion and the typical sound of Angel's guitar. Not too different from the atmospheres of another good Russian band: YOJO.

Sada, which gives the title to the album is a town in the North of Spain, close to La Coruna one the Atlantic Ocean. This track is more jazzy but there's a subtle darkness which is pervasive throughout the album. Here the violin of Vitaly BORODIN plays an important role, partnered in the melodic part by the guitar. The odd signature reminds to the early or the late CAMEL.

The third track has an unusual, for ONTALVA, quantity of major chords. It sounds like a slow Bossa Nova, at least it has a sort of Brasilian mood. It's another excelent track and honestly I can't imagine what the title "Her eyes sparkled in a strange way" can mean. At the first listens I didn't realize how close to Camel it was. The second part of the track end in particular drums and guitar, but also the violin, brought to my mind the final part of Lunar Sea, from Moonmadness. Not a copy, don't get me wrong, it's the structure and some passages that show a kind of affinity, The acoustic coda is fantastic, and creates the contrast with the distorted guitar that opens the following "Day Of Truth".

Distorted guitar that disappeares very soon. This track is closer to the RIO of OCTOBER EQUUS, but is still a dark melodic one. At least until the percussion and the unusual sequence of chords show that Vespero can play everything. It may be included on an October Equus album. There's another good violin performance. Keyboards are present but remain in background.

"A Sense Of Clarity" goes back to the previous mood: a sort of slow jazz with unusual signatures. What is really impressive is how all the instruments are fused into a single flow of music. It doesn't matter if it's violin or guitar. What is even more remarkable is the way it changes to RIO exactly in the middle of the track. There's a smooth transformation into a kind of free jazz form o that the listener finds himself in the middle of a chaotic darkness which then returns to the previous mood again with a smooth transition.

"Futari Kiri" (Japanese again) means "just the two of us". Also this track has something reminding to Moonmadness, but when you play a guitar driven jazzy track in 5/4, it's not strange that it sounds that way. I'm quite surprised by the fact that I have noticed it only after more than 10 listens to the whole album.

Vespero in another demonstration of how good is the prog movement in Russia and Ontalva demonstrates that he can do RIO, Jazz, psychedelia and even Post-Rock, in brief write and play without potehring about belonging to a specific musical genre.

It's a Bandcamp download, as the 300 printed physical copies are probably sold-out already.

 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.99 | 97 ratings

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聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The addition of guitarist 聲gel Ontalva elevates Vespero out of its rut of competent familiarity back into the level of bands worthy of the end of year Album of the Year conversations. The music is similar but Ontalva adds an exciting new aspect: a frontman. Ontalva plays the electric guitar with the tone and attack of Carlos Santana with the finger dexterity of Robert Fripp and the fretboard deftness of Allan Holdsworth. And his acoustic guitar play is even better.

1. "Carta Marina" (12:13) Angel uses a late-era JOHN McLAUGHLIN-like doubled-up synth guitar sound while the Vespero gang slowly build a hypnotic groove. Whereas I was quite intrigued and excited by drummer Ivan Fedotov's sound and style in their first studio album, By The Waters of Tomorrow, I have come to the conclusion that he is no Jaki Liebezeit: he too often stands out, above, or outside of the rock solid rhythmic groove that the song is trying to maintain. Ontalva's work is stellar, often melodic, and often effectively mirrored by violinist Vitaly Borodin. In fact, Borodin is perhaps made better by the challenge of having to keep up with the likes of a virtuoso like Ontalva. The styles 聲gel transitions among, so fluidly, are jaw-dropping. One second he's Wes Montgomery, and then suddenly he's Holdsworth or Fripp (or something above and beyond). (9/10)

2. "Sea Orm" (7:35) playing with a very fluid, unstable pitch locator (or heavy reliance on whammy bar), Ontalva makes us feel the sea sickness of being on the water with his lead guitar. A Caribbean, almost-calypso rhythm pattern holds strong for the first 3:35 before everything shifts to an entirely different albeit still Latin-shaped foundation while 聲gel and keyboardist Alexey Klabukov take turns in the lead position. (8.5/10)

3. "Giant Lobster Between The Orkneys And The Hebrides" (6:48) lazy Holdsworth-like electric leads alternating with Spanish influenced acoustic and electric guitar work accompany a slow, barely noticeable intensification of tension which then almost anti-climactically dissipates down the drain. (8/10)

4. "Insula Magnetica" (8:51) droning background to 聲gel's note-bending soloing--which is eventually matched and mirrored by Borodin on violin. More like soundtrack music. Ivan's drumming is pure brushwork and much beneath the bass synths and lead strings' weaves. Very SHAKTI-like. (8.5/10)

5. "Sledges Crossing The Gulf Of Bothnia" (6:45) opening with an acoustic orientation, this song gets me right from the start. Borodin and Kuzovlov are at their very best as they are challenged by the presence of master Ontalvo! And this is drummer Fedotov's best track (his play is mixed perfectly within the guitars/violins). And 聲gel soars! My favorite song on the album. Plus, the minimalist-math rock structure reminds me of Swiss band SONAR. (9.5/10)

6. "Horrenda Charybdis Near Lofoten" (8:09) opens like I'm about to hear guitar virtuoso Roy Buchanan burst forth with Mitch Mitchell in support! But then it smooths out into typical Kosmische form and sound while 聲gel leads from within the mix. Awesome guitar solo in the fourth minute; 聲gel Ontalva is so inventive, so quick yet fluid and mercurial! Borodin follows with a nice solo offset by some interesting keyboard sound and arpeggi. (The drumming here is rather annoying.) More great soloing from Ontalva before we switch into wind down/wrap it up mode. My second favorite song on the album. (9.5/10)

7. "Ziphius" (10:04) what starts as if it's going to be a classic blues-rock guitar showpiece becomes pure Kosmische Music by the end of the first minute. In the fourth minute, as Borodin and his seering violin join in, the song shifts into a steady four-chord rock pace. This time it seems as if Borodin has finally topped the challenger, Ontalva, and, as the song slows down and stops at 5:25, the two are left screeching what sound like their dying notes. But then the rhythm section flashes back to life with Fedotov flexing and stretching a little while the pace and energy build. (9/10)

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.

 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.99 | 97 ratings

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聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars 'Carta Marina' is a collaboration of multi-talented artist Angel ONTALVA from Spain and Russian band VESPERO. Hopefully not the last, I would like to add straightaway. 2017 they came in touch in Astrakhan, the band's homebase, due to an exhibition of his paintings there. They also managed to play together for about a week. Soon after that Ontalva started to compose pieces of music, the Vespero members had to take care of the arrangements furthermore. That's it, here we go! The main inspiration for the process came from the eponymous map first published in 1539, which shows the nordic Scandinavian countries, this decorated with strange creatures and a bunch of other interesting details.

Thus I would have expected just an image of this map as the front cover. But, due to copyright restrictions, finally the used painting went to be another one, contributed by Ontalva. Now obviously, music-wise the project is trying to accomplish a symbiosis of an avantgarde respectively fusion oriented guitarist and some experimental space prog rockers. Well, no problem at all! This 60 minute affair is fundamented by an extraordinary chemistry regarding those musicians. Eclectic from the result, equipped with complex structure. Therefore the music is extra difficult to describe with words. You definitely must hear this, let it have a lasting effect please.

Very special, we have two guitarists in place, immediately to recognize when starting with the album's title track. Ontalva and Kuzovlev both are stylistically differing for sure, nevertheless complementing in excellent manner throughout. And Vitaly Borodin's violin comes on top. The title song evolves like ebb and flow featuring jazzy fast-paced parts in between, a real challenge for rhythm brothers Arkady and Ivan Fedotov. Insula Magnetica then marks an appealing meandering space tune, where keyboarder Alexey Klabukov is carefully juggling with quirky and twittering synths.

Extra applause for the inspired atmosphere on Sledges Crossing The Gulf Of Bothnia, a wonderful mandolin is serving some proper ethno feeling. Could be designated as a soundtrack for a movie showing people underway along the coast on the widespread frozen ice in wintertime. I would prefer it in the native way anyhow, via reindeer-driven sledge. But the band ultimately gains pace up into a somewhat wild and nervous groove, so even the modern snowmobile could be an alternative for one or two. Constantly stunning, 'Carta Marina' is an album strongly recommended! I'm sure all involved musicians will have extended their musical horizon during the recording process. 4.5 stars so far.

 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.99 | 97 ratings

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聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

5 stars What excites me most about progressive rock is when a band or artist takes inspiration from the past or from litterature. I would love if someone, somewhere could bring Richard III and the battle of Bosworth to life through the medium of keyboard heavy prog. But to be sure, that is not the point of this review, airing my personal hopes and dreams. Let me retrace my steps a bit.

Being a history buff and a sucker for historic maps i can't help but being blown away by this album. I have heard of Vespero but cannot say I have listened to them. That is not to say that there hasn't been an interest to do so from my part, au contraire. But when this album landed in my phone I could not resist it. I felt as though I were a child in a candy store. Here is an album that takes it's inspiration from the old Carta Marina, essentially the oldest reasonably correct depicted map of northern Europe. Nigh on 500 years it was created by the famous cartographer (among other activities) swede Olaus Magnus. It is a beautiful map and one of my all time favorites. Thus it is safe to say that my expectations were quite high. Could this be pulled off or would it sink to the bottom of the Baltic ocean like stone dropped from a lepers hand. (I don't know what that has to do with anything, leper or not the stone is the key.)

The opening "Carta Marina" must be the perfect music to accompany you on a time travel back to the 16th century. The extremely atmosperic intro with soaring guitar and sweeping keyboards is simply marvelous. I'm going now, right back to the study of Olaus Magnus. That is the feeling I get. Halfway in the music really takes off and dense complex instrumentation takes me through the whole of the Carta Marina, as if I was flying across it. There I see the creatures of the sea, the monstrosities that dwells in the deep and the waves that transports my ship to the mysteries of old Iceland. If that is not musical brilliance, to transport me to being a part of the map I do not know what is.

And it goes on in this fashion the album through. "Sea orm" is amazing. On the map you can see the sea snake attacking a ship, pulling it down with him. The music is dramatic and the keyboards really do catch the horror of it all. "Giant lobster between the Orkneys and the Hebrides" is equally mindblowing, as is "Insula magnetica". The mysterious music finds me at the stern of my ship, watching that giant lobster go down into the darkness and unfathomable sea.

And now, for something more playful and mundane activities. "Sledges crossing the gulf of Botnia" is a wonderful track. So beautiful with the playful mandolin. The sledges, drawn by reindeers, snow in my face, laughter and creaking ice. The winter sun of the north. The speed of the sleighride, snow falling on my face. I am there, in that sledge. And now we're racing, the violin and keyboards blurrs my vision. All I care about is the ride itself. One of my favorite pieces.

"Horrenda charybdis near Lofoten" is a dramatic track with horror and beauty all intertwined. I love the rounded notes of the distorted guitar but the violin is breathtaking. The ending "Ziphius" is the most hard and heavy of the tracks. And chaotic, yet there's order. The ziphius being a whale, reaching up to seven metres in length, this track sees me watching from the distance how the creature heads for the surface of the ocean before slowly descending. Majestic track and a perfect way to end a journey through the times and space of the Carta Marina.

I have spent the past few hours really listening to this album. Going back. Going forth. Listened again. Closing my eyes and really allow myself to be overwhelmed by what I hear. This is overwhelming music. Mindblowing music. Brilliant music. When concept and music marries in this way there is really nothing that soothes my soul in the same way. This is a truly breathtaking album, a breathtaking journey and a breathtaking listen. I love it. I really do. I find no faults. Splendid instrumentation and execution. And if I feel this way after just a few hours, how much more will I find after weeks of listening? I dare say more. I can't rate it higher than five stars but that is the only thinkable rating for me. Thank you, Vespero and Angel Ontalvo.

 Tierra Quemada by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.07 | 26 ratings

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Tierra Quemada
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Spanish composer and musician Angel ONTALVA is perhaps best known as a central member of Spanish band October Equus, but he has been involved in multiple side projects and collaborative productions as well. In addition he started releasing material as a solo artist in 2012, and so far this has resulted in seven studio productions as well as several live albums. "Tierra Quemada" is his sixth solo album, and was released through Ontalva's own label OctoberXart in 2015.

Tight and sophisticated instrumental progressive rock is what Angel Ontalva provides on his sixth album "Tierra Quemada". One of those albums that should be on the register of those with a heart for eclectic progressive rock, and then particular if the blend of world music, chamber music and jazzrock is one regarded as interesting by default.

 Mundo Flotante by ONTALVA, 篾GEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.30 | 35 ratings

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Mundo Flotante
聲gel Ontalva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Daledebil

5 stars The Angel Ontalva's discography is a complex stuff, because he has a lot of albums under his own name (most of them only in digital download version) and even more as guitarist and main composer of the excelent spanish group October Equus. "Mundo flotante" is his first "conventional" album and, even when he plays here with member of October Equus, is a really solo efford. Ontalva's music is difficult to classify, running from de instrumental jazz-rock to echoes from African and oriental Music. A good exemple of this is the first track in this 嫮bum: "Sopla viento del este". In the middle of the road between easy and hard listening, the tracks of Mundo Flotante always hide treasures to discover. Nothing is obvious here. Listeners have to collaborate in an active way to find the multiples angles of this always changing music. When you try to describe new music is easy to link it with older and more famous references, but in this case this is not an easy task because references here are only "sonic flashes", evanescent echoes from so many people that is not worth to mention it. The best you can do is listen Mundo Flotante, taking into account that if you like this you have another even better 嫮bum by Ontalva: his second 嫮bum "Tierra Quemada" and, of course the faboulous world of October Equus albums. If you are interested in contemporary spanish progressive rock, this is, by far, the first option.
Thanks to Todd for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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