October Equus - Charybdis

11 songs
46:18 minutes
***** ****


Spain has never been a major export country for rock music. Maybe that’s why October Equus from Madrid decided to release their second album Charybdis on a Russian label. The eleven instrumental compositions not only fit well into the freewheeling spirit of that Eastern company, October Equus are even one of the most intriguing bands I have come across lately. The artists probably don’t like to have their music labelled, but their mostly Seventies sounding tracks beg for name dropping. They combine the stylistic unpredictability of Rock in Opposition (Henry Cow, Present, Univers Zero) with the surreal grace of the lesser known Canterbury jazz rock bands (Hatfield and the North). Especially when the saxophone is prominent, you might think to be in the presence of a long lost album by that obscure English band. The jazzy guitar solos betray also a strong King Crimson influence.

Even though waterphone virtuoso Tom Zunk plays a solo on Unknown Pilot, it’s the floating mellotron carpets that make this piece a stand-out moment on a CD which is full of aha-effects. You shouldn’t really be looking for originality, but the way the band combines the best and most overlooked prog genres of the last few decades makes Charybdis a formally brilliant work that doesn’t sound pretentious, not even for one moment.

While many progressive bands always showed off their instrumental versatility on mammoth tracks with epic lengths, October Equus only once break the seven minute border with Frozen Sea. Otherwise they stay in compact running times, which helps furthermore to make this one very listenable instrumental avant prog jazz rock album. Fans of the aforementioned artists will definitely get their hearts warmed by this brilliant three quarter of an hour long masterpiece.

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