Zeptelar - El color de las cosas

Hailing from Valparaiso in Chile, a coastal city and port 0.40° north of the inland capital Santiago, Zeptelar released El color de las cosas (The colour of things) last year. Fusing rock, jazz, and a light sprinkling of ethnic stylings, the group make an appealing sound that is easy on the ear.

The compositions are mostly the work of guitarist Camilo Acevedo and feature the usually wordless scat-vocals of Valentina Maradones, often in tandem with flute, piano or both. The effect is a Latino jazz-infused take on the Hatfields when featuring The Northettes. Opener De la esquina a la plaza (From the corner of the square) commences proceedings at a canter, and immediately tight-knit and complex ensemble playing is well to the fore. Hints of the harder-edged tuneage to come are given by the slightly dissonant sax blowing in the middle of the tune. An infectious number played by a band obviously in love with their craft, De la esquina a la plaza is a good start.

Syncopation is a big feature of the ensemble playing, and the similar structure of the numbers, especially in the first half of the album occasionally has the effect of making this listener's attention wander. There are many good moments however, and the compositional contradictions inherent in 5 de 3, where the middle-of-the-road scat-jazz is contrasted with harder riff passages shows that the band know how to make an arrangement effective.

Things begin to take off with the longest track on the record, Sangre (Blood). The length of the tune allows the band to stretch out a bit, and Camilo's guitar playing comes into its own. Underpinned by a sonorous funky bass, a light jazzy theme establishes itself with voice and flute. Valentina has an impressive range, evidenced by the top notes reached with ease in this section. Camilo then gets into his stride with a clean jazz solo out of the Metheny school, followed by a more dissonant Zappa-esque offering replete with some nicely controlled sustain and distortion.



The darkly impressionistic Piletismos serves as a link to La pileta de pájaros gigantes (The pool of giant birds), a good fusion number that uses a riff adapted from Soft Machine's The Hazard Profile. Well, if you're going to wear a fusion influence on your sleeve, why not go for the crown of that particular tree?! The now established edgier feel to the album continues into Destapes, which features some nice sax playing from Tomás Carrasco, and on into Persecusiones which highlights the best and most frantic ensemble playing of the record.

We end with the languid Espejismos (Mirages), and El color de las cosas, which takes a while to hit its stride is a thoroughly enjoyable experience once it gets up to speed.

Tracklist:
1. De la esquina a la plaza (4:50)
2. Futuros recuerdos (4:45)
3. 5 de 3 (5:21)
4. El color de las cosas (4:37)
5. Estrellazos (5:03)
6. Sangre (8:19)
7. Piletismos (2:01)
8. La pileta de pájaros gigantes (5:24)
9. Destapes (4:04)
10. Persecusiones (4:51)
11. Espejismos (6:23)

Total running time - 55:39

Line up:
Camilo Acevedo - Guitar
Valentina Mardones - Voice
Felipe Morros - Drums, percussion

Edmundo Castro - Bass
Javier Portilla - Keyboards
Tomás Carrasco - Flute, saxophone


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