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聲gel Ontalva - 聲gel Ontalva & Vespero: Carta Marina CD (album) cover

篾GEL ONTALVA & VESPERO: CARTA MARINA

聲gel Ontalva

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.97 | 96 ratings

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BrufordFreak
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.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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