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TRACK LIST: 1. Hsieh 7:30 2. La Ultima Expedicion 4:50 3. Encantamiento 2:50 4. Tierra Boreal 9:03 5. La Espiral 7:53 6. Alumbrado 1:37 Quentadharken: 7. Los Origenes 5:05 8. Los Hechos 3:08 9. La Batalla 4:17 10. Final 4:41 11. Coda 4:20 Bonus tracks: 12. Labirintos de Piedra 5:25 13. Bocins de L'Emporda 3:40 14. Venus Antigua 3:20 15. Amos del Aire 3:14 All music: by Santamaria, except 3 & 6: Callego. Lyrics: Marta & Lidia C. Arrangements: Amarok. LINE-UP: Robert Santamaria - - keyboards; Eastern string instruments, harp, - acoustic guitar; metal percussion; accordion Carlos Gallego - electric guitar; mallet percussion Marta Segura - vocals Mireia Sisquella - saxophones Manel Mayol - flutes Robert Abella - violin Pau Zanartu - drums Alan Chehab - basses With: Victor Estrada - Spanish guitar Kerstin Kokocinski - oboe Luis Blanco - vibraslap Produced by Santamaria. Engineered by Callego, Zanartu, & Estrada.
Prolusion. "Quentadharken" is the sixth studio album by the Spanish ensemble AMAROK. The lineup on this recording is slightly different from that on their >previous outing. The newcomer Alan Chehab has replaced bassist Victor Estrada, who, though, appears as a guest musician. The other changes concern only session musicians.
Synopsis. The previous Amarok album, >"Mujer Luna", is one of those astonishingly unique works that I can listen to at any time and always with pleasure. Overall, "Quentadharken" (sounds like being a combination of Spanish and German words) follows the same direction, and yet, while the music is still very beautiful and cohesive, there are no compositions on the album that would contain repetitions. The polymorphous nature of the band's style is now inseparably linked with their ever-changing arrangements. As a result, the music sounds so highly innovative that I don't see any other genre terms but Fifth Element to define it. The basic components are still Symphonic Progressive, Classical music, and Folk Rock, though the latter seems to me of an uncertain origin now, which, perhaps, is due to the fact that it is polymorphous in character. The flavors of Oriental music, that are so striking on "Mujer Luna", are still here, but are now as if dissolved in a wide variety of the other Folk-related colors and shades. From whence has the band gathered them? You will also be asking yourself this question when you hear the album. The Prog-Metal constituent is completely out, and that of Jazz-Fusion is in and is easily determinable on Hsieh, La Espiral, Labirintos de Piedra, and Tierra Boreal (1, 5, 12, & 4 respectively), the latter of which is an instrumental piece. The other entities of the album's predominant stylistics are the tracks forming a concept piece, which has given a title to the album: 7 to 11. This is by all means a monolithic composition, and not only because there are no pauses between its parts, the first of which is also an instrumental. In this case, Fifth Element is made up exclusively of the Symphonic Art-Rock and chamber Classical music textures that change each other several times on each of the pieces. The intensive arrangements, typical for Progressive Rock, alternate with those representing, that said, academically developing interplay between chamber instruments (acoustic guitar, harp, piano, violin, oboe and flute in various combinations, sometimes along with the Mellotron) without returning to the previously performed themes. The remaining four compositions: Encantamiento, Alumbrado, Bocins de L'Emporda, Venus Antigua, and Amos del Aire (3, 6, 13, 14, & 15) are instrumental pieces, each blending something unique with Classical Academic music in almost a pure form. Marta Segura's vocals are multifarious in temperament and emotion and in temper as such. By the way, the vocal palette of this album has something in common with that in Minimum Vital, especially on their "Esprit D'Amor" (1997), which is also notable for an abundance of international folk music.
Conclusion. This is a work where originality and inspiration are intermingled with complexity and beauty, all of which has been raised to the power of high attractiveness. Although this update is very rich in positive reviews, Amarok's new album is definitely the best of the recordings I have reviewed for it and is another certain candidate to my >Top-10 favorites of the year. Like manna from Prog heaven, "Quentadharken" will be a real feast for any responsive progressive ears.
VM: July 13, 2004
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