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Un Festín Sagital – Epitafio A La Permanencia

Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records Format: CD

Un Festín Sagital – Epitafio A La PermanenciaFom the opening blasts of the title track, it’s apparent that Epitafio a la Permanencia is going to be more than just strange – it’s going to be weird. First off Un Festín Sagital get top marks for impersonating Magma within the first few bars, then dropping the dramatic chorale motif for now in favour of a deliciously avant slide into the meanders of a sound which winds its way, in riverine grandeur, from twinkling, tinkling melodicism into organ-surging power cycles, shimmering in the light side of the divide between artiness and artfulness, at the point where prog-rock is not really an adequate description, but is most probably where the band will be pigeonholed – which would somewhat miss the point – it’s far more out there than what passes (or passed for that matter) for prog these days.

Their use of electronics is exemplary in its embrace of texture and tone, with timbre getting a fair whack of the bat as the tonalities fracture and some good old-fashioned metal-thwacking takes over the percussive element. Staggering, steaming sax, even more battered electrical trickles and a sense that if they know where they’re going, it might be best not to ask too quickly, as it could lead to a place downriver where the folk monsters live, and everyone knows what they’re like – harmonic, scuffly and beguiling in their capacity to draw in strangers and set them down by the fire for a disjointed, scrappy singalong of occasional surprising delight.

Less obscurely, Epitafio a la Permanencia traipsesits merry parth from slow motion delicacy and drone to bursts of brighly-painted full-face clarity with whichever instrumentation and style seems appropriate, whether that be heavy-riffing, chorus-soaring guitars in a (sometimes, sometimes not) rockist manner; electro-acoustic swarms and hallways of drone; perky stabs of melody; or the aforementioned alien glossolalia choir of otherworldly aspect – whose temper is short and quick to sudden flights of deranged post-operatic dementia. “L’Age Délicieux (la revolución perenne)” is a case in point, with prowling keyboards and a gently percussive rhythm underpinning a sinister vocal offset by tingling stutters of synth and mysteriously urgent riffing which soon lifts off into a thrillingly psychedelic nightmare hyperdriven morass of disparate sound sources clawing for backmasked attention.

The way the group set the mood flowing with joyful ease into altogether more fragrant pastures of string-driven sunshine and gently reverbed heaven becomes yet more astonishing as the transition to “¡No hay Coristas!” finds them in more apparently trad Chiléan mood, strumming guitars and weaving a soon-to-be dissolved web of twangy normality; but it cannot, will not last long, as “La dignidad del espíritu bestia” shuffles out of the carapace and into a propulsive (and compulsive) progged-up dance of the deranged, a sensation which the expansively wayward finale (didgeridoo and all) of “Destierro” does little to overcome – thankfully.

Whatever Un Festín Sagital’s chosen method, it’s on occasion truly inspiring stuff, and calls out for  a concert hall, a row of comfortable reclining seats, a bucketload of whatever takes the chemical fancy and a quiet, appreciative audience to appreciate the impressively thunderous heights and delicate dreamlike vales of what is more often than not a severely beautiful, and always highly unusual, listen.

-Linus Tossio-

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