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October Equus: Permafrost

October Equus formed in the Spanish city of Toledo in 2003. In the band are Ángel Ontalva (guitar), Victor Rodriguez (keyboards), Amanda Pazos Cosse (bass) and Vasco Trilla (drums). Permafrost is their latest release.

Although this is an all instrumental album there is a concept here. The album's title and artwork suggest a theme of cold and that is partly true. The album is about British explorer Sir John Franklin and his doomed expedition of the North West Passage, a route through the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. All 128 crew members were lost including Franklin. It wouldn't make sense to set this story to 'happy' music and indeed, that is the case. The band are firmly entrenched in the avant-garde side of the prog spectrum, very dissonant and often quite jarring.

The album starts with "Erosive forces of wind and water" and the dissonance is immediate with an abstract wall of noise and a slow moving rhythm that builds into some raging organ and complex instrumentation. There is a lot to absorb with the instruments seemingly attacking from all angles, including some cool buzz saw guitar sounds.

Swells of organ and delicate guitar phrasings define the intriguing "Lead poisoning", quite an experimental offering. The song gets quieter with darker sounding keys and clean guitar notes that build in dramatic fashion.

One of the edgiest tracks is the darkly lit "Boots, nails, watches…" where ominous keyboards exude a moody intensity. 'Dark' is the operative word here as all the instruments contribute to the overall menacing tone and when Ontalva's fusion-like guitar passages burst through the eerie soundscape it is pure gold. You can be assured the rest of the tunes are just as intense.

This is not one of those albums that I will play a lot as I do prefer a little less dissonance in my ear candy but what this band does they do very well. One has to be impressed with the sheer adventurous and abstract nature of these compositions. For fans of Magma, Univers Zero…well you get the picture. Not for the faint of heart.

Track Listing:
1. Erosive forces of wind and water (5:16)
2. Lead poisoning (5:14)
3. Boots, nails, watches… (5:24)
4. Thermokarst (5:15)
5. Trapped in the sea ice (3:58)
6. …books, saws, silk handkerchiefs… (3:52)
7. Graves of the crewmen buried on Beechey Island (6:17)
8. …two double-barreled guns and 40 lbs. of chocolate (5:31)

Added: October 17th 2013
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1211
Language: english

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