Psychic Equalizer 2019
Apocalyptic vision from progressive rock mavens who map their way into the future.
“Sanguine” might be the best and the worst word to describe this international band’s music: there’s blood on their tracks, only it’s not life-affirming – quite the contrary. Inspired by the concept of Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer Prize winning book which also lent the quintet’s fourth album such a gruesome title, “The Sixth Extinction” is full of dramatic detail – something that Spanish pianist Hugo Selles, the ensemble’s mastermind, and his colleagues have honed to perfection here – and tentative tranquility in equal measure. Not for nothing they chose a Rachmaninoff prelude for the record’s finale, yet the listener mustn’t be tempted into mistaking the artists’ reflection for the quiet acceptance of doom, because a fire burning in the collective’s consciousness can’t be dimmed.
Of course, the same goes for foreboding which looms, after zooming in on the folk-informed “Lonely Soul” as an all-encompassing drone, over the course of six cuts, but it’s stricken with flamenco and oratorio-esque passages, so whatever forlorn apathy India Hooi’s vocals seem to suggest, this stasis is deceptive, so the pop-passion will be revealed once Morten Skøtt’s drums have encapsulated the glacial gloss and the ivories invited jazzy ripple to the front. And after the “Great Gig In The Sky”-like beginning of the titular number has abated, the funereal solemnity is lifted, too, with choir and Carlos Barragán’s guitar riffs and filigree fills, plus sound effects, driving away the angst and the anger, to where the upbeat “Fly And Feel” should signal freedom and hope.
Everything may be lost in “Wilderness” – a flute-flaunting, if somber, 13-section epic split in two parts – yet the piece’s pulse and handclaps project a tempestuous temperament; factor in a percussive fest at the end, and there’s the future on the horizon, the dawn that’s colored in red and is, indeed, sanguine. A mesmeric work.