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Kotebel: Cosmology

Five years have passed since the last Kotebel studio offering, Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble; those in the know eagerly anticipating the band's deeply progressive, if ever changing approach. Having previously been fronted by the operatic voice of Carolina Prieto and having strongly incorporated grand piano on their last album, it would possibly be a bigger surprise if Kotebel hadn't evolved further from there, flutist Omar Acosta taking on a far more prominent role on Cosmology than his mere 'very special guest' status might suggest. His fluid and characterful style keenly competing against the guitars of Cèsar Garcia Forero and twin keyboard attack from Carlos Plaza Vegas and Adriana Plaza Engelke – the latter also adding piano. With the bass slot filled by Jaime Pascual Summers and drum stool occupied by Carlos Franco Vivas, there is no longer room for a singer in Kotebel, this latest foray a fully instrumental excursion, as the band's last two albums have also been.

Constantly combining Latin themes to a more traditionally progressive framework and then expanding from there, Cosmology is no casual friend. You'll need to commit here and agree that this is going to be a long term relationship – and one where work is required on your part to fully understand what's being undertaken. If you can make that pledge, then the compromise arrives through the likes of "Cosmology Suite – Mechanical Universe", the middle section of a three part, near 25 minute long epic providing some immediate riffing and hooks. That it also evolves through hand percussion, piano, surgingly enigmatic synth swirls and a hypnotic time signature, should warn you that even when this album is ceding to a quick pay-off, it does so purely on its own terms.

As you'll know, what this ensures is that when the more off kilter neo-prog of "Post Ignem" decides you are ready to unravel its dense keys, oppressive chord strikes and quick-quick-slow-quick-quick march, the rewards are long lasting and sure to delight. Whether its flute or keyboards, the 'vocal areas' aren't filled or followed slavishly, instead meandering patterns slake any thirst you may have in that direction without ever feeling like a substitute. That Kotebel also have a handle on how to create a crashing crescendo also confirms that this Spanish outfit know how to build their wares in such a way that you genuinely feel like you've been on a journey as you travel from the track's beginnings to its end.

As you'd expect, the jazz infused Cosmology Suite is undoubtedly this album's core, often feeling like Santana gone prog, but the darting pounce of "Mishima's Dream", or the more steeped in dark jazz "A Bao A Qu" play no second fiddle. "Dante's Paradise Canto XXVIII" plays possibly the album's straightest bat, although in a rewardingly King Crimson style, before the short "Paradise Lost/Paraiso Perdido" brings things to a restrained, if pensive end.

This is classy, assured, technical fare that still knows how to welcome you into its heart and its story. The deeper you dig and more time you spend with spade in hand, the more Cosmology delivers the treasures you were searching for. Making it quite simply one of the year's most enigmatic and rewarding progressive releases.

Track Listing
1. Post Ignem
2. Cosmology Suite: Geocentric Universe
3. Cosmology Suite: Mechanical Universe
4. Cosmology Suite: Entangled Universe
5. Cosmology Suite: Oneness
6. Mishima's Dream
7. A Bao a Qu
8. Canto XXVIII

Added: December 26th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Cosmology at bandcamp
Hits: 1896
Language: english

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