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La Otracina - Tonal Ellipse of the One

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Artist: La Otracina

Album: Tonal Ellipse of the One

Label: Holy Mountain

Review date: Aug. 3, 2007

Lead by avant scene staple Adam Kriney, La Otracina is the latest group to see release courtesy of the red-hot Holy Mountain imprint. Much like many of the label’s recent crop – and a growing number of underground artists across the globe – La Otracina play stereo-taxing sounds heavy on the psych and prog influences.

Yet where many of their contemporaries reply on rote rewritings of ’60s and ’70s kraut and acid-rock, Tonal Ellipse Of The One is a far more ambitious, if no less lysergic, outing. The record’s five tracks focus on the interplay between Kriney’s percussion and the guitars of Tyler Nolan and Ninni Margia (Kriney, Nolan, Jordan Schranz and Gene Janas share bass duties). Kriney is a vicious drummer and he sets on his kit like he’s trying to hammer it into the studio floor. Meanwhile, Nolan and Margia set their patch cords ablaze with a flurry of finger-numbing fretwork.

“Yellow Mellow Magic” begins with a dark clad drone and ominous tom fills before coughing to life amidst revving gear guitars and Kriney’s anvil-footed stomp. “Beyond The Dusty Hills (Cowboy in The Desert Part 2)” sets Earth’s post-Morricone country explorations to simmer, leaving behind the former’s opiate drag for finely constructed circles of desert sprawl.

The badass title “Nine Times The Color Red Explodes Like Heated Blood” is an aptly intense preview for a tune that is a coil of time changes and alternate melodies. In less capable hands such playing can reek of guitar geek pomposity, but these guys never fail to sound legit as they instrumentally light up. “Sailor Of The Salvian Seas” follows a similar path, yet manages to likewise steer clear of mathy pretension.

And what would such an album be without an epic closer? “Ode To Amalthea” is the album’s longest and prettiest track, 13 minutes of ringing, riffing guitars, blurred synthesizers and crackling drums.

While this is certainly music for darkened rooms and filled lungs, it’s instrumental rock ’n’ roll equally fit for zonked heads and Tape Op techies. Tonal Ellipse Of The One is the ideal instrumental psych record: one that moves your mind while you bang your head.

By Ethan Covey

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