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Kotebel - Omphalos CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 92 ratings

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4 stars Ouroboros, 2009's release from Kotebel was my introduction to the band, masterminded by keyboard player Carlos Plaza and was an album of such inventiveness and exciting musical diversity that it made my top 10 of the year. Naturally I felt compelled to start investigating their back catalogue and Omphalos seemed the logical place to start.

It treads similar territory to Ouroboros with its haunting melancholic vibe where symphonic prog collides with jazz influences. Classical touches are also clearly evident. Where it differs is the operatic vocals of Carolina Prieto, which play a crucial role where on its successor vocals only appear on the final track. A very good vocalist she is too in the classical tradition but I do find myself tiring of them ocasionally. Flute also plays an important role in the sound here and while the music has that melancholic vibe it's often lighter and more airy than the dark and brooding sound created on Ouroboros.

The centrepiece of the album is the lengthy six part Pentacle's Suite which truly captures the essence of the band. The haunting introduction, highlighted by the operatic vocals, gives way to unison flute and liquid bass runs overlaid with stark synth chords then drifting into a fusion tinged symphonic sound. A vocal backed classical guitar interlude gives way to flute and piano building with some pleasing mellotron before the bass and drums bring it back into more upbeat territory. It ends on a mellower note, operatic vocals reappearing.

As excellent as Pentacle's Suite is, I have a slight preference for the harder edged Excellent Meat with its pleasing and more upfront electric guitar work, a track more in keeping with what was to follow on Ouroboros. It is however an album of fairly consistent quality, revealing its secrets more and more with repeated plays.

Initial impressions had been that Omphalos fell short of the excellence of Ouroboros, and while I still have a preference for its successor, which reaches heights of musical excitement greater than here, there's no doubting that this is still an album of enormous breadth and scope and deserving of four stars.

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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