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Kotebel Omphalos album cover
3.93 | 105 ratings | 10 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ra (13:10)
2. Excellent Meat (8:51)
3. Pentacle's Suite (i. prologue) (1:36)
4. Pentacle's Suite (ii. Sun Pentacle) (5:20)
5. Pentacle's Suite (iii. Mercury Pentacle) (7:26)
6. Pentacle's Suite (iv. Venus Pentacle) (4:22)
7. Pentacle's Suite (v. Mars Pentacle) (6:38)
8. Pentacle's Suite (vi. epilogue) (4:49)
9. MetroMnemo (4:15)
10. Joropo (4:53)
11. Omphalos (6:57)

Total Time 68:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Carolina Prieto / vocals
- César García Forero / guitars, keyboards (2), bass (9)
- Carlos Plaza / keyboards
- Adriana Plaza / keyboards
- Omar Acosta / flutes
- Jaime Pascual / bass
- Carlos Franco / drums, percussion

- Miguel Rosell Arreaza / cello (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Sandro Bassi

CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4652.AR (2006, France)

2LP Pat Records ‎- PAT-002 LP (2008, Spain)

Digital album

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KOTEBEL Omphalos ratings distribution

(105 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KOTEBEL Omphalos reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars This is the new CD by the interesting Spanish formation Kotobel, it is their fourth studio effort since the debut album Structures from 1999.

1. Ra (11.30) : The first part is dreamy feturing flute and classical piano, then a very dynamic atmosphere with a propulsive rhythm, here Kotobel showcases their huge potential: fluent interplay between organ and guitar, sparkling flute work, soaring Mellotron, howling electric guitar and a fiery duel between flute and guitar. The most remarkable element in Kotobel their music on this CD is the opera-like female voice that sounds powerful with a wide range. It will not be everybody's cup of tea but to me the vocals sound as an extra dimension to the captivating Kotobel prog!

2. Excellent Meat (8.51) : The dynamic, often violent music with lots of heavy parts evokes early King Crimson, especially the fiery electric guitar and powerful drum beats, halfway interrupted by a mellow part with flute and acoustic guitar.

3-8. Pentacle's Suite (30.11) : In this half hour 'magnum opus' we can enjoy Kotobel at their best delivering great shifting moods, strong breaks, excellent interplay and exciting soli on several instruments. My highlights are a howling electric guitar solo in Mercury Pentacle, a wonderful classical intermezzo in Venus Pentacle (including piano and cello) and lots of changing climates in the alternating Mars Pentacle (swirling flute, powerful bass runs, a fat synthesizer sound and virtuosic interplay)

9. MetroMnemo (4.15) : A fluent rhythm with Fripperish guitar work and again many varied and captivating musical ideas.

10. Joropo (4.53) : A dynamic composition, from dreamy with flute and piano to a fluent rhythm with splendid interplay between flute and piano and a strong, flashy synthesizer solo.

11. Omphalos (6.57) : The final song is the titletrack, it starts mellow but gradually turns into more dynamic and bombastic, the vocals sound outstanding between the lush sound of the keyboards, flute and guitar, a great end!

This CD is a very captivating musical adventure, Kotobel prooves that 40 years after the birth of the progressive rock, bands are still able to make progressive rock in the true meaning of the word!

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Spanish-Venezuelan band Kotebel has delivered quite a magnificent symphonic opus for the current times: 2006 is made a great year for prog music thanks to splendid works such as Kotebel's "Omphalos". This is a band that I've just come to discover in recent weeks, and I've learnt to appreciate their musical vision very quickly. In fact, this album has grown on me since listen one despite its complexity and challenging exquisiteness. The Ancient Greek mythology alluded in the album's title is correspondent to the colorful bombast displayed throughout the repertoire, but that's where all connections stand. The album's overall sound is based on a fluid condensation of your typical pompous, well-crafted symphonic prog and the sophisticates meanders of stylish jazz-rock, plus various exotic sources that come into the fold now and then. The input of the two keyboardists serves as a recurrent nucleus for the development of the tracks' motifs, but the flute and the lead guitar are mostly the instruments with a major presence on the fore. The excellent opener 'Ra' comprises an exciting diversity within a frame of perfect cohesiveness: the hooks and inventive surprises are well administered across its 13 minute span. Everything works well here: the dialogues between the two keyboardists, the playful lines on flute, the energetic guitar phrases and solos, the tight rhythm section, Carolina Prieto's pleasant contralto timber. The follower 'Excellent Meat' keeps up the pace of creativity with a harder edge, yet not entering the hard rock territory, but staying, to a certain degree, closer to the more energetic aspect of Gentle Giant style - the main merit for this goes to the multiple keyboard amalgams. This track also includes a soft interlude based on dual acoustic guitars, which brings a flow of serenity before the closing reprise of the initial motif. 'Pentacle Suite' occupies six tracks, that is, six individually titled sections. Starting with a brief exotic opener (very reminiscent of Amarok's Arabic excursions), the comes 'Sun Pentacle', a mesmerizing example of good symphonic prog with clear jazzy nuances. 'Mercury Pentacle' turns into bucolic territory, emulating Anthony Phillips and Mike Oldfield at their most introspective. The alternations between voice and flute are magic and mysterious, which is coherent with the track's tenuous cosmic aura. The last minute bears a moderate climax, not disturbing the ambience. The flute-cello intro of 'Venus Pentacle' is segued, creating a solid expansion from there, an expansion that includes elements of South American folk. 'Mars Pentacle' kicks off with a 7/8 bass riff, soon joined by the whole band. The ensemble recovers the sense of energy and counterpoint-based complexity that has characterized some parts of the brightest previous tracks. The Epilogue section is delivered on a slow tempo, which facilitates the cinematographic pomposity that is so usual in progressive occasions like this. Bearing the burden of following the suite, the three remaining tracks (the first two, instrumental) happen to be effectively appealing on their own terms. 'MetroMnemo' finds the band exploring their jazzy side a bit further - in fact, guitarist César García Forero makes his guitar sound in a very Holdsworth-ish way. 'Joropo' is a number constructed on a 3/4 tempo in a mood typical of the Venezuelan folk dance after which the track is called. This is not really a fusionesque track, but a stylish reconstruction of Latin American folk under symphonic rules. Finally, the title track closes down the album in a melancholic mood, which is given a mysterious flavor thanks to the captivatingly weird chord progressions that conform the main motif and Prieto's evocative singing. The guitar textures also help very much to build the track's proper atmosphere. This is a great closure for a great album: "Omphalos" is a masterful treasure not to be missing in any good progressive collection.
Review by hdfisch
4 stars This is already fourth release by Spanish-Venezuelan Prog band KOTEBEL being initially mainly a project by keyboardist Carlos Plaza helped by guest musicians but grown meanwhile to a real band with regular members. It might be considered their best effort so far, for sure it's their most matured and versatile one combining both pomp and filigree of classical with the power and energy of rock music in a really superb way.

Carlos Plaza's playful and multi-parted compositions are clearly based on classical music and especially a track like the opener "Ra" could be well suitable to be played by a classical ensemble. But fortunately (for us rock fans) there are as well the typical rock instruments guitar, bass and drums as excellent counterparts. What Kotebel is presenting us here can be absolutely called unique or even idiosyncratic and finding similar comparisons is almost impossible (maybe ELP and Renaissance from the classical influence but this band here sounds much more modern and rocking). Casting for the classical and lyrical moments are of course the keys, mainly the piano as well as the flute having strong antagonists with César Garcia Forero's guitar in particular and the powerful bass played by Jaime Pascual. In fact the interplay between the different instruments works really perfectly in this group and for example the moments when the flute comes more to the foreground duelling with the guitar mark only some of the numerous highlights of this album. Another important part of Kotebel's distinctive sound is of course Carolina Prieto's vocal contribution whose haunting soprano might be appreciated not that easily by those people (including me) who don't like too much opera singing style. But as a comfort for those the instrumental sections are prevailing here anyway. Most of the music has been composed by mastermind Carlos Plaza except the two more rocking tracks "Excellent Meat" and "MetroMenemo" being written by guitarist Forero. All lyrics apart from "Shanti Path" derived from a Hindu Sanskrit mantra are based on poems by Carlos' wife Natalye Engelke. I'd recommend to anyone who's interested in learning more about the concept behind "Omphalos" and the band in general to follow the link to an interview with Carlos Plaza on the band's website.

Finally I can just say that this work goes far beyond your standard symphonic Prog and stands as their previous releases for a brilliant example of well-elaborated modern progressive music (or "art music", a term Carlos Plaza prefers). This album should be considered an essential addition to any Prog collection and a must-have for all fans of Symphonic Prog, 4 1/2 stars really!!

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars KOTEBEL create very serious symphonic music that is complex with a Classical flavour. Certainly the soprano, operatic female vocals only add to the high-classed climate of this music. Lots of piano and flute on this one.

"Ra" is the 13 minute opener that features a lot of tempo changes. It opens with flute and piano. Throughout this album you would swear there is mellotron but apparently it's string-synths. There are some nice outbreaks of guitar before 4,6 1/2 and 8 minutes.The vocals though really make it hard for me to enjoy this song. "Excellent Meat" is really different from the other tracks and it's my favourite. This is one of only 2 songs that were written by the guitarist. It features a nice heavy soundscape with some ripping guitar after 2 minutes that goes on and on. A calm after 3 1/2 minutes where strummed guitar and flute lead the way. It kicks back in a minute later with more scorching guitar. "The Pentacle's Suite" is over 30 minutes long and is divided into 6 parts. It starts with the "Prologue" a short intro with dark guitar with those female vocals before the other instruments join in. "Sun" sounds really good with the flute leading the way as bass, light drums,piano and synths help out. Guitar comes in sounding excellent. Waves of sound follow before we get a calm,then a fuller sound comes in. "Mercury" opens with vocals as acoustic guitar joins in. Eventually bass, cymbals, flute, drums and guitar are added one at a time. The guitar play is beautiful. Cool song. "Venus" features some guest cello with piano, string-synths and flute. "Mars" opens with some good bass as drums come in and build. Flute is added. I love the band interplay before 2 minutes. Guitar before 3 minutes followed by a calm and string-synths. Heavy bass is back. An uptempo melody to end it. "Epilogue" is more laid back with flute and slow paced drumming. Bass and vocals follow. String-synths 1 1/2 minutes in followed by a tasteful guitar solo a minute later. Piano and flute to end it.

"MetroMnemo" is the another song i like. It's an instrumental of mainly guitar,bass and drums. "Joropo" is led by piano and flute before synths then guitar come in 2 1/2 minutes. Drums and fat bass 4 minutes in. "Omphalos" is really more of the same including vocals. It's all good. Actually a guy came in the store when I had this on and asked who it was, saying he really liked it. He then asked me if i'd heard of TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA,to which I told him I had three of their cds. He said he's seen them 4 times in concert.

This deserves at least 4 stars because of the quality of the music. In my rating system though it gets 3.5 stars because I have to really like any record I give 4 or 5 stars to.The vocals make it difficult for me.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars As far as the female vocalist is concerned, I will make the same comments than for their previous album: she is too theatrical and opera-oriented to my taste. This has a serious influence about the way I perceive this album ("Ra").

As long as the band plays its impeccable music (some mix between Symphonic and Eclectic), it is above average; especially during the excellent ..."Excellent Meat". A piece with strong KC links: fully instrumental, heavier and oppressive. My fave out here.

The "pièce de résistance" is the long "Pentacle's Suite". The band has used us with such long numbers already (over half an hour). Not always on the good side though. There is no need to express my opinion in a thousand words: this suite is a nice combination between classical passages (with fine fluting and piano), darker moments and "drama" vocals. In all, a good epic, but no jewel for sure.

I won't be original about the last two tracks (because they aren't either). Same stuff. At this stage it is too much for my ears. Almost seventy minutes of monotonous music, well performed for sure. But still monotonous.

Three stars.

Review by progpositivity
5 stars Is there a subgenre for 'operatic prog'? If there were, surely KOTEBEL's album OMPHALOS would be at the forefront! This is a truly unique and compelling brand of progressive rock. In addition to the pastoral and symphonic, this album features extended instrumental passages that are rock and fusion oriented. Highly recommended.

As I type the words 'operatic prog', two images jump into my head, neither of which accurately depicts the subtlety of the music to be discovered on this album. First, I am reminded of the operatic vocal qualities that are found in some Prog Metal. The singing on OMPHALOS is light years removed from any obsession with power. These vocals are grounded in disciplined beauty and restraint.

Second, I think of the infamous "fat lady" that projects such a bellowing tone that, despite the requisite training and skill required to accomplish such a feat, despite even a certain amount of respect and awe when confronted with such a vocal presence, still sounds more than a little like an amplified monotone fire alarm to my ears. Yes, this approach was needed over a century ago back before amplifiers and microphones were ubiquitous, but is such diaphragm amplification really necessary today?

In contrast, these female operatic vocals on OMPHALOS are sweet in disposition as they float effortlessly in and around, even meld into and become a part of the varied instrumentation of the album. Rather than overpower the music, they are performed and mixed in subordination to the greater whole. In rare instances, the vocal line is so sublime, the transition from voice to instrument so seamless that one becomes hard pressed to identify the precise moment when singing stopped and flute began.

Many prog bands are categorized as "symphonic" merely because they include flute and/or cello in their song arrangements. KOTEBEL's "Omphalos", however, truly earns the distinction by delivering well conceived and composed symphonic art rock gems... Listen for influences as wide and varied as Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Tony Banks!

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This Spanish outfit's fourth album is a fair one consisting of both gentle acoustic/classical arrangements and flashy symphonic jazz rock. I don't particularly mind the classical feminine voice that bleeds all over many of the pieces except that it sounds like the vocals are mixed to loudly, and that produces some rather unpleasant clipping. Another issue is how very little of this album is memorable at all. Omphalos generally remains pleasant without becoming anything more, and for that, borders on tedium.

"Ra" Delicate piano and flute begin the lengthy opener. It quickly picks up pace with a charging riff and slightly discordant organ and flute. The operatic vocals of Caroline Prieto are bittersweet and silky initially, but I find the sporadic notes unsuitable for the piece. The electric guitar excursions do not disappoint, and for me serve as highlights of an otherwise meandering work.

"Excellent Meat" The second tune sounds nothing like the previous one- it boasts heavy electric guitar riffs that carry it through. One riff in particular is really cool, and maintains a exceptional groove. Unfortunately, as soon as the guitar solo takes over, the rhythm shifts in an unexpected and disjointed way. For a third shift in direction, a thin acoustic guitar takes command. Mostly everything thereafter is cacophonic and disjointed eclectic prog.

"Pentacle's Suite (I. Prologue)" Ghostly operatic vocals and exotic percussion create a mystical tune.

"Pentacle's Suite (II. Sun Pentacle)" Jumpy bass and flute bounce around over eerie keyboard before discordant synthesizer and piano joins in.

"Pentacle's Suite (III. Mercury Pentacle)" Classical guitar and those long, feminine notes make up the lengthiest part of the suite.

"Pentacle's Suite (IV. Venus Pentacle)" Continuing with calm music, this piece consists of piano and flute.

"Pentacle's Suite (V. Mars Pentacle)" After almost twelve minutes of tranquil music, the band offers some delightful symphonic jazz rock, led by the flute and the synthesizer.

"Pentacle's Suite (VI. Epilogue)" The epilogue is a smoother piece of music, with light singing and guitar soloing.

"MetroMnemo" Kotebel returns to the jazzier side of their sound with a jaunty guitar riff and mellow chords under a creative lead.

"Joropo" This brisk piece relies on piano and flute dancing around in 3/8 time. I enjoy the swirling passage in the middle with the lead guitar, flute, and synthesizer acting almost independently of one another and still creating a harmonic flow.

"Omphalos" The final piece contains several varying passages, but ultimately is a grand mashing of the reserved operatic music throughout the album.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The reviewer on Prognossis has turned me on to several wonderful modern progressive rock artists--though his tastes are perhaps a bit more RIO/avante garde/eclectic than mine. AFTER CRYING, GOURISHANKAR, FROMUZ, FRENCH TV and now KOTEBEL are a few of his raves that I am enjoying getting to know. Omphalos is the best of the lot, so far. I love female voices--especially good ones, with near-operatic quality, who have excellent accompanying bands (ANNIE HASLAM/RENAISSANCE, NINA HAGEN, NIGHTWISH, EPICA, DARGAARD, NIL, KOTEBEL). And I love classically influenced music (though not so much music that borrows rather blatantly from classical themes as ELP, NEW TROLLS, and even RENAISSANCE have done), so KOTEBEL is quite a find for me. Every listen seems to bring greater appreciation and geometrically increasing enjoyment. But my favorite element of Kotebel is the strong, often dominant presence of the flute. This is an instrument used far too little, IMO, in modern prog. The old JETHRO TULL, FOCUS, and early GENESIS use of flute were, for me, such highlights to the 70s.

1. "Ra" is such an amazing piece, with so many moods an themes. At first I was quite overwhelmed by it--couldn't get into it, but now its familiar themes and flow is a very treasured journey. Some of the key changes just kill me! Time and tempo changes as well. (8/10) 2. "Excellent Meat" reminds me of FROMUZ and NIL and even a little ON THE VIRG and KANSAS. Another song that took me several listens to get into. (I think the key with this album is familiarity; repeated listens seem to increase one's enjoyment and appreciation.) Organ, acoustic (Spanish) guitars, and a Bruford-esque snare really add so much to this temperamental song. Strangely: No flute! Brilliant musicianship. (8/10)

The next six songs are, I think, intended to be listened to and considered as one--a 'suite,' if you will. Especially since they all 'bleed' into one another. And that is precisely how I listen to them. They really do fit/belong together--and are, collectively, the second highest point of the album.

3. "Prologue" definitely sets a stage of mystery and awe for the Pentacle Suite. A strong Moorish influence here, to be sure. (9/10)

4. "Sun Pentacle" Flute and voice take turns singing the lead melodies, though electric guitars and synthesizers get their shots in, as well, in a moody, mostly heavy song. I feel as if I'm in an original "Star Trek" episode! (8/10)

5. "Mercury Pentacle" begins with Carolina Prieto's beautiful, long and lilting vocal notes--which are soon joined by a Spanish/classically played acoustic guitar. Briefly joined by full band?with some very delicate drum/cymbol play--before the sonics very quickly ebb away, leaving the steady acoustic guitar arpeggios alone for a while before a background flute joins. Voice and rhythm section take turns entering, disappearing, always leaving the virtuosic guitarist plucking away, sometimes joined by the distant flute melody. An amazingly textured song with plenty of unexpected sounds, riffs, and shifts. Song ends with a plaintive elctric guitar solo--a melody familiar from ANDREW LLOYD WEBER's "Jesus Christ Superstar." (9/10)

6. "Venus Pentacle" presents an acoustic side: piano, flute and cello. (And, later, some mellotron!) This song reminds me of DEBUSSEY and JEAN-PIERRE RAMPAL-MICHEL LEGRAND-ALEXANDRE LAGOYA. An absolutely gorgeous symphonic mélange of classical and jazz, European style. (10/10)

7. "Mars Pentacle" ushers back a jazzy FROMUZ sound, full band performing, flutes and electric guitars taking the first leads, synth keyboard taking over briefly (my favorite sounds & melodies of this song). Definitely a progressive rock song as it is so reminiscent of the kind of stuff ELP, RENAISSANCE and THE ENID did in the 70s. (8/10)

8. "Epilogue" takes a couple of the Pentacle Suite's previous themes (particularly from the previous and penultimate song, "Mars Pentacle") and slows them down, gives the flute, wonderful voice of Carolina Prieto (with lyrics! [Not in English]), and, later, to a slide guitar and electric guitar. (9/10)

9. "MetroMnemo." Someone asked on ProgArchives who does/has done the best ALLAN HOLDSWORTH copy and I have to answer, without hesitation, that the guitar work on this song is 'the best Allan Holdsworth playing Allan Holdsworth never did.' (Only, this may be better than anything AH ever did.) (IMHO) Even the song's construction is so similar to Holdsworth songs: full of sudden stops, shifts, time, key, and mood changes. There has never been a better 'copy.' Interesting end/fade out. (8/10)

10. "Joropo." Flute and piano & keyboard synthesizers open this song--again sounding, to me, so much like much of JEAN-PIERRE RAMPAL's work with either CLAUDE BOLLING or MICHEL LEGRAND--though, of course, added to by the presence of electronics (I suppose, in the place of orchestration)--i.e. keyboards and fuzzed electric guitar. Really an amazing journey through the undulating countrysides of pastoral Europe! (9/10)

11. "Omphalos" is quite possibly my favorite single song of the 21st Century. To be sure, it is in the top ten. Carolina Prieto's gorgeous voice carries me away to places high in the sky, high over ice-covered mountain peaks. And another performance of virtuoso musicians. My only complaint is that it may go on just a little too long (i.e. the song could have happily ended at the 5:23 mark but instead chooses to come back for a reprise of the main theme--with little or no new development--for more than another minute.) (10/10)

This is one of my favorite/"best of ..." albums of the first decade of the 21st Century. (#17) Without any doubt or hesitation, this album deserves five stars, for it is, indeed, a masterpiece of progressive rock--a true example that "progress" is still being made in modern music.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The cover art is very impressive: a man sits in the center, only his back is shown, his arms stretch out, surrounded by astronomy bodies. Omphalos means navel, the center of the world. The CD itself shows a mosaic with a Hebrew text, which means "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; Le ... (read more)

Report this review (#120317) | Posted by ShW1 | Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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