Sonus Umbra - Spiritual Vertigo

Year of Release: 2003
Label: The Sound Of The Shadow (self-released)
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

Any fan of Progressive Rock will tell you the best music must be sought out. While playing catchy tunes and jingles, the radio is merely background music for some of us. We find it better suited for parties, the gym, or a weekend drive. If you want good intelligent music with thoughtful lyrics and fine musicianship, look no further than the progressive rock genre. To assimilate new recruits into this culture is a daunting task. The music sounds so different to the average person's ears. Not to mention, any suggestions are met with the fact your target audience has never even heard of these bands. How many times have you mentioned Spock's Beard and The Flower Kings and been met with a perplexed stare?

Brand awareness makes a difference.

Doing a search will immediately return many hits for the aforementioned bands. There are scores of other bands to discover online. Many are just a hop, skip, or a jump away from the next one. After much sampling and open-mindedness, one can find a selection of bands capable of producing great progressive music. Every now and then a new gem is uncovered, but eventually the end of the road is reached. There is only a handful that can keep up with the elite. Typically, if there is little to no hype around the community, you may discover something good, but certainly not extraordinary. It seems many of the same musicians are responsible for all the great releases.

?This leads us to Sonus Umbra?

The band is fairly unknown. It is hard to find a reference to this band beyond their own website and a handful of other sites. Toss this simple fact aside as it does not apply in this case. I assure you these musicians are ultra-talented and produce phenomenal music.

Sonus Umbra played a set at the Rites of Spring Music Festival in April of 2004. If not for that event, some groups like Orphan Project and Alias Eye would still be unknown. Sonus Umbra would definitely be an unidentified progressive outfit. It turns out Sonus Umbra was fortunate enough to play the event. That's why Spiral Vertigo is receiving this attention.

Sonus Umbra uses a combination of electric and acoustic guitars. Ricardo Gomez is responsible for the lead guitar. The multi-talented Luis Nasser contributes the acoustic and crunch guitars. He also plays a bouncy bass and introduces some cool keys. If that's not enough, some of the odd vocals (his words in the notes) are his as well. The drummer, Jeff Larame, uses a jazzy style. The main vocals are handled by a tag-team consisting of Andres Aullet and Lisa Francis.

The name of the band, if you were wondering, translates to The Sound of Shadows. However, their sound is more like a prism of colors from the darkest of darks to the brightest of the brights. Like it is said in Sesame Street, they are different, but the same. Sonus Umbra uses many familiar progressive elements while adding some that are aren't typically heard in this style of music. Since the band originates from Mexico, it should come as no surprise to find Mexican influences in their music. These are hard to miss and mostly come in the form of Mariachi guitar sequences. The singing, the harmonies especially, have a bit of a Mexican touch as well. Desperado would be proud.

This is a glimpse of what can be found on Spiral Vertigo:

"Bone Machines" - The album starts like the dawn of days in the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001. Evolution occurs in a flash. The chugging of industrial machines is heard. The dirty, inefficient machines make way for smoother, cleaner ones. A sophisticated guitar solo enters into the picture.

"Fool's Arcadia" - There is terrific balance between the tracks. While the previous one is like a ball charging down a bowling lane, this one is lighter than a feather floating through air. The vocals are passionate. The acoustic guitars and piano are delicate.

"Man Of Anger And Light" - This has a darker, edgier feel to it. A recurring riff sounds very similar to Spock's Beard's "The Devil's Got My Throat." Another sequence reminds me of the scene from Flash Gordon where the hawkmen attack the city. You'll be half-expecting Prince Vultan's call for the final assault on Emperor Ming's fortress. Dive!

"Fascinoma" - Kevin Gilbert's "#1 Certifiable Smash" comes to mind. It may not be coincidental, because there is a point where someone shouts, "Here's Johnny." The song has a nice beat and the soundtrack elements work well here. Lisa provides saintly vocals while Andres sings in an assertive manner.

"Self Erosion" - This is a like a Kopecky instrumental. The difference is that this one has vocals compliments of Andres. The song has a very nice melody. The acoustic guitar provides great rhythm, too.

"Amnesia Junkies Part I" - The song is very political. To put it lightly, it talks about American leadership and democracy. The amnesia it hits upon is people turning their backs on the issues. The point it makes is that problems stay around even when they are ignored.

"Amnesia Junkies Part II" - Musically, this is quite different from Part I. The continuity is found in the lyrics. This part deals with the Israeli-Palestine conflict. They hit some heavyweight subject matter on this album. Hopefully, nobody gets their underwear in a bunch over this one.

"Timequake" - A casino dealer barks out bids similar to the gambling sequence in Scenes From A Memory. The keyboard is set to imitate a xylophone. The bridge is delightful. The title of the album is touched upon here. It portrays people who remains bound to a rope and continue to climb due to their fears. It discusses our cultures behavior. The analogy illustrates mindless conformity.

"Rust In My Sleep" - The song sounds like Frogg Café's "All This Time" off their Creature album. It even begins in the same way with falling droplets of water. Lisa returns with some fantastic vocals.

"Snakes & Ladders" - The track pays homage to Neal Morse. It is dedication that should make him proud. It is similar in some ways to Duran Duran's "View To A Kill." This is the longest track on the album, nearly hitting the eleven minute mark. It is one of the more active pieces transitioning in and out of several sequences. It should keep your attention for the duration. Luis Nasser's bass and keys are the highlight of this song.

Hidden Track (spoiler) - I wouldn't want to blow the surprise, but it is an absolute must to wait until the disc is completely finished. I also suggest repeating the hidden portion. There is a funny aspect to it that is easily missed.

For those of you still unfamiliar with Sonus Umbra, be sure to check out Spiral Vertigo. You'll be asking yourself why they have not been discovered by more fans.

Bone Machines (5:56) / Fool's Arcadia (8:40) / Man Of Anger And Light (4:18) / Fascinoma (7:10) / Self Erosion (6:03) / Amnesia Junkies Pt I (Pax Americana) (4:19) / Amnesia Junkies Pt II (Pax Iraelica) (3:42) / Timequake (5:31) / Rust In My Sleep (3:31) / Snakes And Ladders (10:58)

Andres Aullet ? lead vocals
Luis Nasser ? bass, keyboards, acoustic & crunch guitars, odd vocals
Ricardo Gomez ? lead guitars
Jeff Laramee ? drums, vocals

Special Guests:

Lisa Frances ? vocals
John Grant ? additional lead guitars

Snapshots From Limbo (2000) Spiritual Vertigo (2003)
Digging For Zeroes (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin MX

Added: August 22nd 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website:
Hits: 1094
Language: english


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