October Equus - Saturnal. 2011 AltRock (Italy).
Let's move off of space rock for a minute, and enter the hallowed halls at the university of Avant Progressive.
"Saturnal" is the 3rd album from arguably Spain's most complex rock band. Their first album was almost like a psychedelic Present (Belgium), a very interesting combination that I found highly appealing. With each subsequent release, October Equus ups the ante on complexity, while toning down the more jamming aspect of their sound. It's pretty clear this is a band that now must play live with scored music charts, rather than rehashing more simple material and letting loose on occasion. On "Saturnal", October Equus has entered the realms of a new force of music - one that was pioneered by Thinking Plague - and now mastered by many more. Sophisticated, dense, mathematical, academic are a few adjectives that can describe the music within. It's the blueprint sound of the AltRock label. Avant progressive at its most pure. And for me, each new album becomes a little less exciting but more intelligent. The fun and creative high school kid is going to be a doctor. His mother would be proud.
My friend Assaf writes: "I will say this, though: the music on Saturnal is (or can be to those unfamiliar with the style) dense, complicated and hard to penetrate. Indeed, this is an album that the listener has to clear his way into, get past the walls of seemingly “unpleasant” and hard to grasp sounds and vibes. This is not to say the music is “bad” or un-enjoyable, but that one has to take the time to have a clear path into the music and be able to feel comfortable listening to it. While I’m quite used to this “type of music”, it took me a while to penetrate its thick sound and jam-packed content. With 13 pieces on here, all written by either Ángel Ontalva or Víctor Rodríguez, you’re in for an intense and long journey. Perhaps splitting the album into two listening sessions would help make it easier to swallow for those not fully comfortable with the music. But in my opinion, it is a journey well worth taking."
That's good advice from a veteran of the scene.
Overall, I still find October Equus to be an excellent band. I just wish they'd loosen up a bit.