UPSILON ACRUX - Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum

Upsilon Acrux - Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum

11 songs
42:33 minutes
***** ****
LP: Epicene / CD: Planaria


Band name and song titles are a source of utter silliness that guarantees that your first take on this fourth album by San Diego's five-piece Upsilon Acrux will leave you speechless. The opener Oaxaca shows from the beginning that instead of just being another instrumental math band, the smart-assed use of Seventies moog keyboards and two drummers (one for your left speaker and one for your right one) add a welcome note of fun to their otherwise ultra-progressive (or in their own words: maximist) music.

With a former album called In The Acrux Of The Upsilon King, a King Crimon influence is more than natural, although the overall angularity reminds much stronger of early Henry Cow and subsequent R.I.O. followers. To prove once and for all their love of strange Seventies rock, they cover Night Of The Goblin by infamous Italian proggers Goblin whose main occupation was to write soundtracks for Dario Argento's horror movies.

You can't deny that there is something very visual about UA's music, and while song titles like Valence Electrons and Your Geometric Hyena seem more like a parody of your typical math rock clichés (by using even expressions of the natural sciences), it is with the longer tracks When Satan Ruled The Ocean, Jesus Made My Fish Tank Boil and The Seventh Gateway Of Ninib Called Adarj that they convince with really intelligent song writing, being able to keep your attention in a quagmire of polyrhythms, odd time signatures and one of the craziest stereo productions you will ever hear.

Compared to other contemporary prog bands, UA have a much fuller sound than the more famous Flying Luttenbachers and are less metal than the Fucking Champs. In fact Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum is the album Henry Cow might have recorded, had they been founded in this millennium, and their refusal to improvise plus the not too long running time make this a perfect entry point into modern complex music. Technically brilliant, rhythmically unbelievable, with just the right amount of melody to prevent the album from becoming a self-indulgent exercise in proggishness, it still is a bit pretentious, but also adoringly charming for fans of avant rock and insane jazz rock.

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