The Chilean band has only recently gained recognition among wider, international audience. Multi-instrumentalists Marcelo Rodriguez and Michel Leroy, Pablo Martinez on guitars, Paulo Rojas on violin and viola and Gonzalo Diaz on percussion have developed a lavish, syncretic idiom bordering on illusionism. The atmosphere of metaphysical mystery is conveyed through a cornucopia of tonal metaphors. The story lines may be inhabited by intricate geometrical forms, but never default to a pure musical mosaic.
A zeuhl-like choir thrusts their trade down our earlobes, but this will not be another Magma concerto. The instrumentation is too rich and the editing too lateral to seek parallels in that direction. Broiling hammond organ will be a dominant feature. Iterative, multiples voices intervene in harsh, unexpected phrases. The 2nd part of this extended composition commences pianissimo, against a hazy, pulsating background. Rhapsodic intrusions crackle, appear and vanish. Pablo Martinez on electric guitar builds a faint line over a harmonic support from the Hammond and other keyboards. Although the 3rd part opens with easily identifiable sounds of harpsichord, guitar and drums, it will be closely followed by what is the most abstract section. Low and high-pitched grating from Marcelo Rodriguez’s arsenal collides with piano strings, shouting and a meandering alto sax. Nostalgically quaint wah-wah guitar ushers in a song hijacked from some provincial party. The guitar theme evolves for the moment, but remains skeletal, disturbed by synthesized, cello (Sebastian Mercado) and saxophone interludes. The guitar loses its wah-wah tinge, but continues to fade in and out while the indignant zeuhlish vocal separates the pithy units. A short theme circling around some devilish manège closes this composition.
Epitafio al delirio de la permanencia Part 2
The band accumulates effects in the first several seconds of this piece: sustained electronic note, lyrical piano chords, a growling voice, bells, finally a sudden wake-up call by electric guitar and keyboards. From now one this will be a double keyboard show on organ and piano. The latter carries a more melodious element. Somewhere, far away, a forlorn voice pretends to know how to sing. All this stops and Paul Rojas on viola makes his appearance, pursued by a morose choir. The fearful voices will now alternate with a frightening organ sequence. Some scream, others panic, still others try to reassure the shocked, cacophonic crowd. A lonely narrative piano will loom up, but on a different planet.
L’âge délicieux (la revoluciòn perenne)
The empty range between the tinkling and ominous ur-drone is so empty that the space is quickly filled by an electric guitar and scraps of disoriented voices. Michel Leroy’s organ will control the tone quality and Gonzalo Diaz’s fluent hand drums specify a repetitive pattern. Half-murmured incantation in Spanish and French, the returning jingle and a tortured guitar bestow on this passage a quasi-liturgical quality. The comfortable rhythmic backbone will now allow the band to exhibit its impressive versatility: morbid progression à la Trembling Strain, low range buzz reminding us of Univers Zero’s “La faulx”, natural loop evocative of DDAA. As the composition gains in dynamic, its form is earning an epic status. All the varied elements converge on the path traced by this journey, leaving acoustic beads with rosary-like regularity. The tension is relieved when the guitar and violin revisit the convoy and the organ returns with the incessant tune. Surprisingly, what follows is a progressive rock stanza: “Escucha…” The lazy, untrained voices sound almost like trio SBB. Pero no importa. This track alone deserves a 6-star rating.
¡No hay Coristas!
The liturgical mood continues as the choir repeats its complaint – “there are no choristers”. This mournful song will glide along with acoustic guitar, violin and harmonic guitar. Still, some phase shifting and jumpy interjections remind us that the territory is far from convention. Even the prettiest song sequence is always threatened by an intrusion in ‘la STPO’ vein.
La dignidad del espìritu bastia
It is quite amazing how catchy this tune can be, buried among the phantasmagoric fantasias and the overall reining complexity. The arrangement is lush, but the editing allows the rhythm section (Luis Moya) and the solo violin to dominate the scene. This will not last. Agile violin suddenly stops responding to the predictable refrain and speeds away. The change in tempo will be contagious. Overexcited voices, Julio Cortes’ saxophones and occasional outbursts of fuzz guitar will do their best to catch up.
The theme – hummed and sung listlessly – is being supported again by the duet of acoustic lead guitar and electric fuzz ointment. An octave below Philippe Cauvin’s falsetto, Michel Leroy depicts the “Uprooting”. When the violin and hand drums return, his magniloquent manner invades the classic Italian territory. String trio of two guitars and violin will then conduct their explorations, without the sense of urgency that sometimes spoil contemporaneous Nippon bands. More color is applied, with recorder and didjeridoo by Alexis Soto filling the vast space behind the soloing, mellow guitar. As the theme decelerates, the strumming becomes sparse, sending us an inexorable signal of adios. Or until the next one, one hopes.
The band’s discography is still relatively short. The first two recordings are to “Epitafio a la permanencia” what a charcoal sketch is to oil canvas; intriguing and engaging, but with more restricted spatial properties.
UN FESTIN SAGITAL: Pharmakon (2004)
UN FESTIN SAGITAL: Esternocleidomastleoideo (2004, 2006)
UN FESTIN SAGITAL: Epitafio a la permanencia (2007)