Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Hello once again fellow progheads!  As we celebrate--or mourn--the demise of yet another winter (depending on your point of view), I thought it best to travel to a spot on the map that is still virgin territory for the concert closet.  While the calendar declared spring's arrival weeks ago, the early morning frost refuses to relinquish her grasp on daybreak around these parts just yet.  I never need an excuse to take the concert closet on the road, so I reasoned this was an opportune time to head to Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Here I discovered a band that has a bit of an edge, a smooth but not "sickly-sweet" sound, and the ability to put a bit of a strut in your step...let us listen together to the sounds of Amoenus.

At first listen Amoenus appears to be the just latest incarnation of a rock band.  However; clearing the flotsam and jetsam from my head for a keener listen allows me to go a bit deeper...below the surface...and let the sounds wash over my ears.  Amoenus has a solid sound that doesn't defy categorization--but it does challenge it.  The vocals range from sultry to bellowing; think Patti Smith and Laurie Anderson.  The accompanying instrumentation has hints of Consider The Thief and Fire Garden.  Amoenus is without doubt planted squarely in new acreage deep in the prog garden, but the fertilizer of choice beckons some heavy hitters...

My first serving this week is a song called "Involucrado."  Amoenus chooses to come out of the gate full stride on this cut, riding the strength of forceful guitars and drums that clear a path like the Grim Reaper swinging a scythe.  My obligatory mea culpa here; the lyrics are not my mother tongue.  However; that is way beside the point...the vocals are strong, clean, and crystal-like in sharpness.  This song never loosens its grip on your ears until the last echo fades from the headphones.  You only get one chance to make a good first impression and Amoenus has proven victorious.

Sauntering back toward the buffet for a second helping, I dive into "Eres (Deja de Morir)."  Here Amoenus grabs the wheel and steers hard left...not a bootlegger's turn but definitely off in a different direction. The acoustic opening melting into some haunting vocals is but a prelude to a deep piece of music that echoes in the ears just long enough to carry you to a calm island where the waves will wash over you but not toss you into the tide so you forget which way is up.  The time change hits you quickly and painlessly so you essentially roll through it without missing a beat.

Liner Notes... formed in 2006, the core of  Amoenus is Rodo Amoroso on guitars, drums, and arrangements, Natalia Tunon on vocals, and Alejandro Montenegro on bass and arrangements under.  Darius Sposito guests on harmonica and Ruben Debenedetti adds adjustments.  Amoenus runs the gambit as far as prog style; I detect echoes of Marillion and Pandora when focused on the production.  The vocals are a bit harder to pin down--I mentioned Laurie Anderson and Patti Smith earlier.  Although they are fair comparisons, I don't believe they truly capture the uniqueness that is Natalia's voice; perhaps a bit of Kate Bush has been folded into the mix as well.  There is almost a classical top note to the flavor of Amoenus and the layers of the music they put forth.  The cathedral-like fullness to their sound is also quite impressive.

My third and final platterful from the prog buffet this week is a song called "El Mar No Cesa (Heroes Del Silencio)."  Once again the mellow acoustic opening leads to a quick guitar blast that hits you square--but the blow is not fatal.  Rather it is but a prelude to what feels like a full bodied bottle of Malbec...the flavor lasts a good long time and you are never quite sated.  Amoenus has aged well in seven plus years and the bar is set high as they make their way across the prog landscape.  Learn more about who and what Amoenus is at http://www.amoenus.com.ar/

The clip posted below is "La Voz de la Auscencia."  I thought you might enjoy a heapin' helping of Natalia's voice; smooth as  lemon vodka and gritty as virgin wool all at once.  The mood hangs a bit somber here as Rodo's looming guitar seems to envelope the entire piece.  I almost get a sense of Uriah Heep as I listen to the drums and guitar bring out the best in each other.        

OK fellow progheads, we have successfully taken Argentina by storm.  The pins in the map are numerous as we take the concert closet around the globe in search of all things prog.  My passport is getting worn out as I pass through customs on a weekly basis, and my carry-on is straining from the weight of additional albums purchased along the way.  No worries; globe-hopping for all things prog is the best therapy I can think of to offset the ordinary normalness of life.  I wonder if an investment  in some Rosetta Stone software would be tax deductible?  Until next week...

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