Exsimio hails from Chile and is an instrumental band comprised of two guitarists, a drummer, and a bass player. There are no keyboards on this release. Though often mentioned together with King Crimson and Rush, I feel this description is lacking. Exsimio is an interesting mix of overtly technical guitar scales blended with a phenomenal bass player (whose name I shall write down and never forget again) that defines the direction of every piece with his cordial yet at the same time furious note choices. His tone can vary from a very deep low end to grinding bass figures that would leave even the most dedicated death metal fan's jaw hanging. I assume Carlos Perez is also the main man of the band, since he is listed in the booklet first and does also the few spoken parts. Furthermore, the stylistic flow of the tunes also suggest he is one of the driving forces behind Exsimio. Unfortunately since the booklet is entirely in Spanish, I cannot be specifics about the songwriting credits.
That's not to take away from the guitar players, however. Juan Ignacio Varela and Claudio Corcione are undoubtedly from the prog fusion school, but their influences are blurry. Although I take pride in being a huge guitar music fan and have a pretty big collection of instrumental music, I can't say I've heard too many guitarists that sound like them. At one point, they'll harmonise with each other; when one cuts it loose playing a screaming electric solo, the other one will lay down beautiful acoustic stuff for counterpoint effect. None of the songs are entirely choppy or mellow from start to finish. On the contrary, like an Opeth album, Exsimio likes to combine all sorts of soundscapes, no matter how polar opposites they might be, and melt them into harmonic scales which are often coloured with accentuated bass arpeggios that love to chime in between the guitar chords every second. Though it's an extremely challenging task to write and perform this type of music, it is bizarrelly easy to enjoy them. I had to think of Gordian Knot when listening to this disc, as Exsimio also builds atmospheric walls of sound utilising both playful and technical guitar licks and sweeping bass tones. "El Trauko" is one of these songs and the vibrato of both guitarists in the end is truly remarkable. Similarly the echoic acoustics on "Ser En El Ensueno" and the contrast between soft to bone-crushingly heavy section on "C-14" prove to be exceptional instrumental parts, considering how they were arranged around Perez' rampaging bass. Both guitarists interact with rhythmic and fusion-inspired legato phrases before shifting to the colder and more mechanical atonal playing styles of bands like Dysrhythmia and Canvas Solaris.
"Amenaza" explodes like a volcano, similar to the craziest moments heard on the Behold the Arctopus EP, as wailing dual guitars are subdued with the arrival of an ultra-heavy bass solo. Soon enough, the guitars return to the centre of the piece, and one of the guitarists plays this awesome two-hand tapping, whilst the other layers a sweet Middle Eastern motif on top of it. The song concludes with both shredders diving headlong into a heavy staccato overkill. Three songs also feature spoken Spanish lyrics, usually during the quieter moments. Either it's just a sparse bass throb underlying eerie minor chords or Carlos Perez will simply deliver the message through the song's entirety ("2012"). Not speaking Spanish, I have no idea what the lyrics are about, but strangely, when I consider the dark and somewhat creepy tone of the bass, those passages evoke politically charged South American movies from the 70's. It's just the way Perez reads the texts, while Fernando Jaramillo on drums supports him with crashing cymbals or hi-hat. Jaramillo sounds like the combination of ethnic, technical and Latin drummers all rolled up in one. For a moment he'll fill the songs with mind-bending polyrhythms as on "Haploide", and then, he'll just employ an outstanding trumpet tone beneath searing dual leads on "El Juicio II". For further diversity, you'll hear him adding tribal percussion beats on "Esquizofrenia" or evoking Dead Soul Tribe's Adel Moustafa on the final track. It's like you're listening to three different drummers on the same album.
This disc should please fans of Gordian Knot, 70's prog mostly being King Crimson, technical shred such as Behold the Arctopus, or more avant garde inflected bands in the vein of Dysrhythmia. I don't think I've heard a more interesting instrumental album this year, but then I haven't heard the new Niacin and OHM yet.
- Ser En El Ensueno
- El Juicio II
- El Trauko