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October Equus - Presagios CD (album) cover


October Equus



3.85 | 28 ratings

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4 stars October Equus is a RIO/Avant Prog band that was founded in 2003 in Madrid, Spain and in October of 2019, has released it's 6th album called "Presagios". The core band is currently a trio with Angel Ontalva (guitar, mixing), Victor Rodriguez (keyboards) and Amanda Pazos (bass). Joining this core line-up are four guests rounding out the sound with Yoland Alba Rodriguez (flute), John Falcone (bassoon), Pablo Ortega (cello) and Piotr Talalay (drums). There are 11 tracks that never break the six minute mark, and the total run time is over 41 minutes.

The music is very avant-garde with a mix of chamber rock, odd time signatures with constant changes, lots of dissonance, and tracks that change in texture on a constant basis. The band has accumulated quite a fan base, and it is quite apparent why. The musicians here are adept putting together smart music that takes a lot of musicianship to create and reproduce. It is all instrumental and complex. The texture sways from odd chamber style music to heavy bouts of traditional guitar and keys bursting out among the more organic sounds of the flute, bassoon and cello. It's quite an interesting and intriguing mix.

For example, on the first track "Pneuma", the band wastes no time jumping right into the bizarre sounds, no time for warm ups or acclimating the listener. The melody quickly jumps from one instrument to another, breaking up traditional phrasing as each musician passes the melody on to another at unpredictable intervals. But, the album still doesn't rely on that style as the next track "Intermitencias" is a bit mellower, but still with a nice level of complexity as the moods of the music shifts back and forth suddenly from organic to heavy rock at a moments notice. "Ceniza" on the other hand, features interplay between the flute, bassoon and the harsh notes of the guitar, which later all gives way to allowing the organ to mess around a bit while a squalling guitar interrupts from time to time. The mixture is awesome and original, everyone producing the strangest sounds, harmonies and textures that can be dreamt up.

Trying to explain the make up of each track is virtually impossible as things tend to swing around and change often. "Igneo" begins very mysteriously and moves along like that before a synth solo comes in and brightens everything up, and high pitched notes of the guitar wail and whine. At times, sustained notes from the synths attempt to anchor the sound, but they usually get swept away in the complexity of it all.

Often times, you might find yourself trying to categorize the music as being classical, rock or jazz, but in reality, it's a combination of all of that set into the avant garde style with plenty of complex progressive structure. The mix of cello with guitar in the title track "Presagio" testifies to the mixture of musical styles contrasting and yet gelling with each other, as this track continues, a smooth piano brings in the jazz element, and all of this is done with a very minimal use of percussion. Later, all of this gets drowned in washes of organ chords while the guitar talks everyone into picking up the tempo. Contrasting melodies are played by the flute and the guitar while the organ and drums try to establish which direction to take everything. When everything is finally figured out, the track quickly ends.

This is one of those albums that will reveal different surprises each time you hear it. Each track has many melodic lines at times, and these are usually anchored some way by the tempo or texture of the particular track, and not necessarily by any one instrument. Since the music is quite complex, it might take some time for certain listeners to penetrate the nuances and many layers of the tracks. The music is very intellectual, and the only thing that could be improved here is a more variable use of dynamics. The complexity can make this difficult, but it has been done quite well by other bands. This little issue might even be less noticeable with further listenings, but for now, it gives the album a 4.5 star rating that rounds down to 4 stars. However, there is a good possibility that might change over time. Excellent and complex.

TCat | 4/5 |


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