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Gardenia - Ummo CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.91 | 4 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This being the second review I've done of this excellent eclectic prog band, I'm quickly learning that brevity is no hindrance to good music. In a genre often bloated with multi-hour albums and disc-long epics, it's a bit refreshing to discover a band that can do so much with so little. Though "Ummo" is but an EP, clocking in at just under 18 minutes, it's nonetheless an incredibly varied and satisfying listen and a good reminder that no matter how long a release may be there's no substitute for good composition.

"Tras la aurora: las doradas manzanas del sol" starts off with an introduction that, like much of Gardenia's previous album, reminds me heavily of the Mars Volta's quieter moments. Languid bass, guitar, piano and perucussion interlace under high pitched vocals before a wonderfully melodic, almost Floydian solo from the guitar begins. As the music begins to grow a little bit heavier courtesty of a distorted guitar part, vocals re-enter, embarking on a brief but soaring section that leads into an even more intense ramping up: the guitars speed up and go from merely existing to full-on riffing and the vocals almost begin to approach growling. A much more subdued piano and guitar section provides a break, with prominent percussion and psychedelic guitars moving the track towards jazzier territory. This is but a brief respite, however, as the crunchy guitar riffs soon return full throttle to create a sonic blitz that closes out the track.

"Así el tiempo se va..." follows this up on a spacier note, beginning with a swirling introduction of ambient synth sounds that hearkens to the music of Klaus Schulze. I really am impressed with Gardenia's ability to come off the hard rocking ending of the first track and go straight into a very convincing electronic/ambient section, but I suppose my previous listenings to the group's album Invocacion a las Pajaros should have convinced me that variety is not something Gardenia lacks. Indeed, their commitment to avoiding similarity in their work is admirable, with this particular track moving from Krautish ambient to a more post-rock-ish flavor once vocals come in. The ambient electronics remain, but percussion and bass are added, giving the latter half of the track a rather shoegazing feel that works very well and as a result ends up being one of my favorite tracks in my (admittedly limited) listenings to this group.

The EP closes on a much shorter track, "Un punto azul." Immediately establishing a rather ominous, cinematic tone, the track blends elements from the first two tracks, with a definite psychedelic heaviness reminiscent of the first track but also a decidedly languid delivery that recalls the second. I mentioned in my other Gardenia review that the group can pack a lot of punch into a very short amount of time, and though this closer is only about half the length of the first two tracks it's no less effective and is another excellent addition to this short-but- sweet release.

I've always liked the EP format because it gives artists a chance to try new things without a lot of pressure. Ummo is understandably less focused than was Invocacion a las Pajaros, but it also shows a different side of Gardenia; one that didn't have a chance to come through on the previous album. Where a 7 and a half minute shogaze/ambient piece like "Así el tiempo se va..." would have sounded incredibly out of place on Invocacion, here it can merely exist in its own space and be judged on its own merits. So, while you shouldn't go in to Ummo with the same expectations you would have for a so called "full-length" album, this is a great listen in its own right as well.


VanVanVan | 4/5 |


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