The whimsical, jazz-influenced brand of progressive rock known as Canterbury scene is not a genre that features a large amount of newer bands, but every now and again an excellent act proves that the genre is still alive and well. Hailing from Spain (a place that rarely produces Canterbury music) is Amoeba Split, a group that delivers this style of music with serious class. Although the band was originally formed as early as 2001 and released an EP in 2003, it wasn't until 2010 that the world got to hear Amoeba Split's debut full-length release entitled Dance of the Goodbyes. A very solid observation from all fronts, Dance of the Goodbyes has a lot in common with the classic Canterbury bands, but still manages to bring plenty of new ideas to the table.
Amoeba Split's sound primarily borrows from acts like Caravan, The Soft Machine, and Gong, which means that the listener should expect a mix of sophisticated psychedelic rock and jazz music with a quirky British twist. Amoeba Split borrows ideas from other styles – there are pastoral segments, wild sax solos that would fit on a Van Der Graaf Generator record, and tight fusion jams in the vein of Weather Report – but this release should mostly appeal to Canterbury fans. All of the instrumentation sounds very retro, with the instruments limited to organic tones and the production sounding warm and earthy. I particularly dig the selection of keyboard tones used by Ricardo Castro Varela, as I think they flesh out the compositions to their fullest potential. María Toro's vocals have a loose and jazzy approach that differs significantly from many other progressive rock singers; though I initially found her shrill delivery to be a bit off-putting, her vocals grew on me over repeated listens and I now think they suit the music perfectly.
Dance of the Goodbyes also features some stunning instrumental displays (the improvisational "Turbulent Matrix" especially stands out), and overall I'd say this is a very successful debut from Amoeba Split. It may perhaps wear its influences too proudly for some listeners, but Canterbury enthusiasts will undoubtedly have a blast with this release. I'll be very much looking forward to see what this band has to offer in the future, and, in the meantime, fans of the Canterbury scene should check this one out without hesitation.
1. Dedicated to us, but we weren't listening (3:50)
2. Perfumed garden (9:43)
3. Turbulent matrix (10:47)
4. Blessed water (12:26)
5. Qwerty (0:49)
6. Flight to nowhere (23:39)