Abrete Gandul

Enjambre Sísmico

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For third album Enjambre Sismico, released by AltrOck imprint Fading Records in 2011, Chilean prog rockers Abrete Gandul settled on a quartet configuration of guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums. Fading has an expressed goal to explore "contaminations" of "classical" progressive rock to keep the genre moving forward, and Abrete Gandul do "contaminate" their prog on Enjambre Sismico -- although with mixed results on one occasion. "Hacia la Nada" starts the album strongly with unflagging momentum, shifting moods, rising/falling dynamics, and effective use of piano, Mellotron, and synth voicings by keyboardist Jaime Acuña. Guest Estratos Akrias from Akinetón Retard enters late in the track, roughing things up with grainy and soulful saxophone, matched by guitarist Rodrigo Maccioni's dirty tone and chunky chords (with a lot of phase shifting, as elsewhere throughout the disc). Akrias is a strong addition here, fitting with the composition's form and spirit. But several tracks later, the ten-and-a-half-minute "Consecuencia Natural" -- which begins with a lovely, understated, and jazzy interlude of Canterbury-style prog recalling Alan Gowen and Gilgamesh -- is another story. Two and a half minutes in, the sprightly arrangement transitions into steadily pulsing space rock from which an extended funk-rock vamp emerges, a vehicle for more soulful blowing by Akrias. This is fun for a while, but unfortunately continues for six minutes without enough variation to maintain interest, and is ultimately a jarring maneuver with an elusive connection to the track's beginning.

In contrast, the changes in "Marejada" complement, rather than collide with, one another, as Maccioni's Fripp-ish and Acuña's kalimba-like arpeggios, layered over a seven-beat rhythm forcefully pushed by bassist Pedro Santander and drummer Antonio Arceu, segue into a chord progression -- with Acuña suddenly shifting, for a while at least, to a subtle acoustic piano voicing -- that opens the tune harmonically like a fresh breeze. On the 11-plus-minute "Colapso," an angular keyboard riff builds into a powerful unison line of rumbling bass, squelchy synth, and burning guitar. After a fade into more phase-shifting effects and a segment showcasing Maccioni's fine flutework, the group wends its way through the piece while revisiting variations of that angular riff, even handing it off to Santander as the musicians spiral off together into a modal space jazz-rock coda with echoes of You-era Gong. After the dark and complicated "Intangible" -- including a piano part recalling Henry Cow's "Living in the Heart of the Beast" -- the album ends with the 9/8 stop-start of "...Y Ahora Qué?," featuring Akrias on clarinet and saxophone. The tune abruptly shifts into a gently swinging feature for the reedman's klezmer/Gypsy/Balkan-flavored clarinet and then Akrias returns to soulful saxophone as the band returns to the initial core rhythm, smoothing its angularity as the momentum builds. Sure, it ends in a jam, which maybe stretches on too long, but by melding styles coherently and maintaining its odd-metered rhythmic thread throughout, "...Y Ahora Qué?" is a "contamination" that works.

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