4.5 out of 5 Stars!
I’ve been a fan of Témpano, a Prog-Rock band from Venezuela, for only the past few years, having finally discovered the joys of the band’s 1979 debut (Atabal Yemal) thanks to a friend who thought I might enjoy the band’s experimental style. On its debut, Témpano reminded me of groups as diverse as Area, Nathan Mahl, Gentle Giant, Colosseum II, Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Return To Forever, artists willing to twist the norms and generate intriguing melodies among odd time shifts and inventive, often Avant-Garde instrumentation.
Thankfully, Témpano not only continues to exist and flourish, but has considerably extended its musical growth, as shown on its latest release, Nowhere Now Here. Certainly, much of the music offered here is of the same high caliber and fascinating variety as the band’s “early days,” but there are also several noticeable differences…
For one, the lyrics are now exclusively in English.
And two, the production is much richer, with the band successfully taking full advantage of modern studio techniques and equipment.
And three, the material (although still Jazzy in places, still bordering on Avant-Prog on many of the instrumental tracks—or even on one wonderfully twisted vocal track called “When Opposites Meet,” my absolute favorite) is a bit more accessible to the average listener. Indeed, a handful of tunes—”The Night Before the End,” “Daylight Moon,” “Whisper of the Blade,” and “Acrobat Citizens”—contain straightforward vocal melodies surrounded by Prog instrumentation, reminding me of some modern-day Prog-Rock/AOR groups with a Jazz-Rock flavor—thanks to the occasional sax insertions and dreamy atmospheres—such as the exceptional Moonrise.
Yet Témpano is nothing if not creative when it comes to popping in strange percussion accents or intriguing rhythms, flashy synth or guitar blasts that shock the system, so even those more accessible AOR-leaning tunes are full of happy surprises both large and small, and I reveled in all of them.
I’ve decided that, since the band are undoubtedly masters of Prog-Rock and do their native country proud, if I had my druthers, I’d direct that a statue be erected in the center of Caracas in their honor. This band is highly worthy of investigation for all Prog-Rock lovers, especially those who like some added experimentation and pizzazz.
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