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Quaterna Requiem (Wiermann & Vogel) - Quasimodo CD (album) cover

QUASIMODO

Quaterna Requiem (Wiermann & Vogel)

 

Symphonic Prog

3.91 | 47 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars A glance at the credits to this disk is bound to yield the first disappointment, that being the utter absence of the violin which swept sentimental listeners off their collective tootsies on "Velha Gravura". Given that the main weakness of that debut lay in Elisa Wierman's overuse of tired synthesizer runs, the prognosis here could not be propitious. Indeed, "Fanfarra" fulfills our deepest fears, being a colourless take on Aaron Copeland by way of EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER that falls well below the quality control standards of the prior recording.

But then, a wonderful trick of the light transpires in the form of "Os Reis Malditos", which might just be the most accomplished piece of either of Elisa's dear progeny. A suite of minimalist mantras mostly on stately organs coloured by bombastic bass and mournful lead guitars, it rivals the best by much better known names while never stooping to mimicry. One can certainly point to CAMEL but I don't know that they were ever this intense, and I also thought of Scandinavian guys GROOVECTOR, but again ratcheted up a dozen off notches. The termination is as a 70s epic played live, drawn out and percussively embellished, but it's really about allowing the artists to decompress rather than vaunt their skill.

If "Aquintha" returns to the cheesy 70s sounds, this time it is more Wakeman-esque winsomeness than Emersonian pomp, and as such slightly warmer but ultimately not recommended. Luckily "Irm„os Grimm" returns to the more ambitious and involved aspect of the Quaterna Requiem toolkit. The first 5 minutes are a bit meandering, but the inspiration is more apparent thereafter during the quiet and well developed passage that begins with a deep harpsichord-like theme beneath ambient synths and whale-like lead guitar. Martial drums, a favourite of the group, herald the next segment of scintillating organ succeeded by simply elegant lead by Josť Roberto Crivano that we follow to a happy ending.

The final value of the album may rest in the title cut simply because it runs half of its total length. "Quasimodo" is a set of a half dozen or so pieces with deliberate breaks between them. The quasi classical character of group is evident in the crumhorns and recorders of Sergio Dias, and later the ancient aura is re-established by Benedictine monk voices espousing the virtue of our hunchbacked protagonist no doubt. Wierman's organ playing is lovely here. Gentle harpsichord features prominently in several of these movements. Don't expect GRYPHON here; this is a lot more deliberate, stately, and ultimately convincing. Maybe I just like a sense of gravity and commitment about my medieval prog. The tempo is varied but usually on the sedate side, and the last few minutes are downright ambient. Somehow the ending seems a bit lacking in climactic power, but perhaps I need to brush up on the story.

I apologize for a rather lengthier review than is my wont. "Quasimodo", while perhaps less consistent than "Velha Gravura", leaves me equally sated. At its best, which is often enough, it's a devotional work where faith is in the music, and I have a hunch you'll be back at it many times.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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