Sonus Umbra - Snapshots From Limbo

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Moonchild
Catalog Number: CD 7275
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:37:00

There is really no way to describe Sonus Umbra or anyone to compare them with. They are another band that proves the high quality of work in the progressive field coming out of Mexico these days. Though the band has re-located to the US, they were formerly called Radio Silence in Mexico.

The band's music is built on a moody, brooding intensity. Analog keys form the backbone, with a lot of acoustic and classical guitar adding the colour. At times I'm reminded of the more atmospheric German bands from the 70s, combined with some of the solemn textures of Timothy Pure (AKA early Pink Floyd). The melodies and song writing is absolutely superb, with a soft, yet melancholy Gothic tone throughout.

The band is comprised of chief songwriter Luis Nasser who also plays bass, acoustic guitar and handles the vocals. Andres Aullet also does vocals and plays Korg Trinity. Ricardo Gomez handles guitar and Jeff Laramee drums and also sings.

The first thing that I would like to point out is the amazing lyrics by Nasser on this CD. Though his first language is obviously Spanish, Nasser is a brilliant poet in English as well. All singing is in English and the dark beauty of his words make most other prog lyricists seem sophomoric.

The CD starts out with the short, beautiful "Ghosts From The Past." "Seven Masks" quickly follows and immediately sets the brooding tone for the record. Though the song hangs on a repetitive riff and is not one of the better tracks on the CD, there are some nice keyboard passages here. "Demons" is brilliant. A clock ticking, droning synth, thunder sound Fx take us into a hauntingly beautiful ballad where the singer's voice mesmerizes.

"Soul Dusk" follows and builds on a piano backdrop and some nice acoustic, Flamenco-esque textures. This song is unusually sprite as compared to the rest of the album. Track five is another soft, moody ballad. Some great lead acoustic guitar at the end add a sophisticated touch that exemplifies the brilliance of this CD.

Keyboards take over on the bombardistic "The Eagle Has Landed." This song rocks and not at the expense of melody and the key-driven instrumental climax chills your very soul. There is nothing more rich and fulfilling to listen to than a Korg when it is so well played as a lead instrument.

Sweeping, spacey textures abound in the opening of "Erich Zann." Driven by primitive percussion rhythms, pounding piano and scorching guitar, this track stands out as an instrumental worthy of mention. There is also a middle eastern flavour to the song that makes it almost impossible to categorise. Superb.

"A Season In Hell," track 8, dances between a light synth and acoustic guitar. I'm not too fond of this song. The singing and generally melody sounds a bit too atonal, not as well consolidated as the rest of the CD. It does have some nice edgy guitar work though. "Homo Homini Lupus" follows and it is the highlight of the CD. In three movements, the song begins with a driving rhythm counter-augmented by classical lead guitar. The chorus drops to a minor key, then a scorching guitar-driven instrumental carries the song through some blistering aural landscapes. This extended instrumental goes through all kinds of changes including a beautiful, lacy piano passage. The song cleverly returns to the first part again, with driving rhythm, funky bass and classical guitar. The song rallies to a electric crescendo which lifts me from my seat every time I hear it.

The last song, the twelve minute "Insects" is in three parts. It deals metaphorically with decay, the food chain, and insignificance. Each part has its own bleak form of beauty and ends all too abruptly. At sixty two-minutes, I simply did not want this CD to end.

Sonus Umbra are one of a few unfortunate bands on the Moonchild label. The label suffered almost insurmountably by the death of its founder, leaving all the bands in a form of distribution limbo. It's a shame that a band of Sonus Umbra's calibre won't have the aid of proper promotion. However, I'm convinced music this good will eventually find its audience.

Ghosts From The Past (2:38) / Doppelganger (7:52) / Seven Masks (7:42) / Demons (3:50) / Soul Dusk (4:28) / The Eagle Has Landed (4:19) / Erich Zann (5:27) / A Season In Hell (4:55) / Homo Homini Lupus (7:45) / Insects (12:13) Part I: The Watcher (Larval Epiphany) Part II: Metamorphosis Part III: Imago (The Meat Sickness)

Luis Nasser - bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
Andres Aullet - vocals, Korg Trinity
Ricardo Gomez - electric and acoustic guitar
Jeff Laramee - drums, vocals


Lisa Francis - vocals
John Grant - electric and 12 string acoustic guitars
Tapabrata Pal - tabla

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

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin MX

Added: November 27th 2000
Reviewer: Richard Zywotkiewicz

Artist website:
Hits: 1241
Language: english


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