Alquilbencil - From Serengethi To Taklamakan

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4421.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:00:00

Spain's Alquilbencil are another one of those bands that defy easy description. For every element you mention, there two or more others that you overlook. Their rich sound incorporates various forms of jazz, including some avant styling, ethnic textures (Middle Eastern motifs mostly), and symphonic rock styles (notable in the spacey "Waiting Room" and "Fertil Crescent"). In a way, there's something for everyone ? even a little bit of ragtime (a brief piano solo from keyboardist Alex Alguacil). The band's sound is coloured by sax, baritone sax, tenor sax, flute, trumpet all of which add warmth to the arrangements, though for the most part they're warm anyway. Guitarist Carlos Rojo does occasionally have a very raw, acidic tone, mostly in the more avant, experimental pieces the band plays. There are parts to "Serveix ? Me Un Altre Got De Vi" that sound like music from the soundtrack to some 1940s or 1950s movie with a somewhat fantasical theme ? maybe it's the fluttering flute of Oriol Guerrero. It ends with an almost tango like rhythm, something that will reappear on the title track, too.

"Dire: From Serengethi To Taklamaken" starts with a strong Middle Eastern flavor, though. This track has a very cinematic feel, suggesting what ever is going on at this palace is of high import. The sound is vivid such that I see a brightly light, shining palace of Middle Eastern architecture, a live with activity. This rhythm is echoed later in the piece by a bright, brassy sax, and then by organ for a few measures. However, the Serengeti is in Tanzania on the African continent and Taklamakan is a desert in China, north of Tibet. Given those two non-Middle Eastern locales, the musical style seems at odds, but looking at a map, one does have to pass through Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan or Pakistan (depending on your route)? assuming you don't fly, of course. But, the journey isn't so much literal I think. The Serengeti represents nature and life (trees, water, birds, animals) where the desert represents the opposite ? barren and lifeless (though not necessarily). Maybe I'm keying on the word "Dire" here, but I think, too, the inference is that both locales are threatened environmentally.

Since their self-titled debut, the band has expanded from a quartet to a quintet and on this CD the line up includes five guests musicians filling out their sound. The core band is Rojo on guitars, Ricard Pons on bass, Alquacil on keyboards, Oriol Jimenez on sax and vocals, and Marti Ocaña on drums. The guests are Joan Santanach on guitars, Oriol Guerrero on flute, Gerard Font on trumpets, Edgar on tenor sax, and Ferran Besalduch on baritone sax.

Recorded live in 2001 at El Teatre Principal de Badalona, the CD opens with the jazzy "Introduccion," and then moves quickly to the initially acidic fusion of "La Presa" ("Prey"). As with other pieces, this doesn't stay as any one thing, taking on a Middle Eastern aspect that is moody and meditative. The band then switch gears to the symphonic "Waiting Room." Hearing this latter piece, you'd be tempted to label this band as being influenced by Pink Floyd and Marillion, and I'll grant that Jimenez does remind me of Hogarth in terms of delivery rather than tone. But really what it means is that the whole vibe is floaty, lanquid, though not quite spacey, owing to Alguacil's keys. Ocaña's drumming lays down a steady, heartbeat like throb, like the keys, played in a lanquid fashion. This falls away into a heavenly interlude ? heavenly is certainly the impression they are trying to leave you with ? flute-like tones breath over sparse, tinkling piano notes? it's peaceful and idyllic. The titular waiting room seems to be set just ahead of the pearly gates? This same kind of atmosphere is also created in "Fertil Crescent" which has about halfway through, a more acidic aspect owing to Rojo's guitar which takes on a fuzzed and raw tone. Something that appeared earlier, too, in the avant-jazzy realms of "Hit," where get to hear some funky bass work from Pons and often taut guitar from Rojo. The album ends with the dark and haunting "Çet" (recorded in 2000), guitars squeak and squeal in horrified and horrifying tones. I wouldn't really call this psychedelic, but there is, again, a strong hint of Pink Floyd (more The Wall than Dark Side? in this case). A chorus (literally) of voices scream, all within in mix, like another instrument. But one wonders at what tortures are being visited upon them? and then fears that knowledge.

Throughout, the members of Alquibencil prove to be accomplished musicians, feeling equally at home with swingy jazz and moody atmospherics, with rock and world music. It is a fascinating and entertaining mix of styles that you would think would work, but it does, and seamlessly. Something for everyone, and the best of all worlds.

Because there were some stunning photos taken in the Serengeti and available for your viewing, here is the website for the Serengeti National Park.

Introducció (1:16) / La Presa (7:24) / Waiting Room (10:24) / Hit (5:05) / Dire : From Serengethi To Talkamakan (5:49) / Fertil Crescent (8:33) / Estricnina (4:54) / Serveix - Me Un Altre Got De Vi (7:47) / Coda (5:05) / Çet (6:13)

Carlos Rojo?- guitar
Ricard Pons?- bass
Alex Alguacil - keyboards
Oriol Jimenez - sax and vocals
Marti Ocaña?- drums and percussion


Joan Santanach - guitar (1, 2, 9)
Oriol Guerrero - flute (5, 8)
Gerard Font - trumpet (4, 5, 8, 9)
Edgar - tenor sax (4, 5, 8, 9)
Ferran Besalduch - baritone sax (4, 5, 8, 9)
Chorus - Rom´ Pellejero, Xavi Grau, Iv´n Reyes, Lluna Aragön, Carlos Rojo, David Gal´n (10)

Alquilbencil (2000)
From Serengethi To Taklamakan (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin ES

Added: March 9th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2506
Language: english


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