Montalban Quintet S/T 10.22.11
Imagine the project born in the epic openness of Monte Alban in Oaxaca.
Arisen like Robert Wyatt, Gavin Bryarís mooded loop in"Jesusí Blood Never Failed Me Yet" is so perfect. The timbre sways in this cover to the heart of the project, with sentimental soft drums and horns accompanying the loop gently, swooning in a long warm bath of slow ripples. Originally recorded for the Obscure label, this song does the original justice and is the clue in which the album is best taken. I would prefer this track ended the disc, filled with this monumentally satisfying bliss.
This collection is mostly an ambient piece, perfect when it resides in Eno’s compelling balance of non/being creating a silent translucent underwater scrim, that colors the world as it plays through your subconscious. Across genres, the album is populated mainly with horns. Regardless, in the background and production, you get a feeling of the San Diego sound, the carefully constructed and crafted vibe of recorded Pinback and Album Leaf, coupled with accomplished song crafting. Many of the players have been in the SD scene for a while; Sleeping People, No Knife, Tanner +. This debut album by the band was recorded over the past 5 years, seemingly between other projects. And, it listens as the moss greens the ground, with great ambiance.
The instrumentation keeps the vibe in a seamless pocket and for the most part the vocals are treated gently and sit in a bed of smooth sounds. Though the drums are often pounding (IE: "Lonnieís Lamen"t) and the vocals often wail loud in the room, like Boilermaker, both are mixed at a level sufficient for ambient imbibing. Layered textures and thoughtfully constructed orchestration allow a gentler listen to a bigger sound. Occasionally a mysterious broken loop or buried vocal evoke a feeling of another world. These are some of my favorite parts within the songs. In Abajo del Mar, there is a vocal loop living throughout the song, textured by horns and some great Jerry Garcia simple, repetitive guitar lines.
There are six different horns used on the album, as well as a vibraphone, and you can feel the use of air, the natural movement of the breath. Itís a sweet 8 tracks that mostly cross fade into a 50 minute feast, definitely a sit down record. If you only listen to the electronica or the guitar-driven sounds of San Diego, itís definitely a twist and a different vibe.
About half of the songs are originals and the others are based around tracks by Coltrane, Miles Davis +.
The vocal loop in the "Feast of Manioc" (C Prescottand and K Thibideau) is evocative and compelling and touches a bit of what High Mountain Tempel aims for (disclosure: Thibideau has mastered all four of High Mountain Tempel's records). This track turns the disc in a new direction for a couple of minutes, before the horns make their presence felt again, and lift the songs into their climaxes. Down by the water you can loll in the ever-evolving layers. The longer songs are assisted by a slight touch of a fever, something that tarnishes the perfectly recorded sounds, and adds a ghostly seance to the proceedings.
Is it born in Oaxaca?