Thursday 22 August 2019

Origens - Destino (2019)

Country: Brazil
Style: Progressive Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 30 Jun 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Prog Archives

While South America seems to be particularly full of excellent psychedelic rock bands nowadays, there's plenty of quality prog rock down there too and Origens, from Maceió in Brazil are another great example. They were formed back in 2015 and this is their third album.

If I'm understanding correctly, the band is Alessandro 'Aru' Mendonça, who wrote all but the two minute opener; produced the album; contributed bass throughout; sang on two thirds of the songs; played acoustic guitar on five of them and plugged in for a sixth; and even added synths on one track and tambourine on another. I'm sure he probably switched out the lights too.

That's not to say that he's along here, as there are an amazing twenty-two other musicians involved, though I don't think any play on more than three tracks. What it means is that Aru is the driving force behind Destino and is surely who we should praise first, because this is versatile stuff, going to all sorts of different places and raising all sorts of different comparisons.

The most obvious is Pink Floyd, as there's a lot of that here. The opening track could have been on Ummagumma, while the closing one is more Dark Side of the Moon, but Aru has clearly listened to a lot of Floyd in his time and it's seeped into his bones. However, he's also listened to a heck of a lot of other music too, as evidenced by how some of these songs progress.

Saia de Si para Lá, for instance, clocks in at almost ten minutes and covers so much ground that I wondered if it translated from the Portuguese as The History of Rock Music Thus Far*. It starts out akin to Vangelis, hinting at Pulstar but going in a different direction, especially when the rest of the band join in. That's almost a Megadeth riff. That one's right out of Uriah Heep. And, when the siren shows up, we're in heavy psych territory, kind of like Black Sabbath without Tony Iommi's guitar. There's a funky alternative section that's almost Faith No More and then it's psychedelic solo time.

I found myself remembering each track by its progression. Uníssona é a Busca begins like Rory Gallagher blues rock only for keyboards to suddenly leap in like this is the prog rock it is. Super Delírio Atemporal - Pt. 2 starts out reminiscent of a psychedelic Midnight Rider but it gets very bluesy. Destino itself, the title track, has eleven minutes to develop and it begins with a long piano intro reminiscent of Barclay James Harvest, becomes Floydian and then funks up, with a brief diversion in Crosby, Stills & Nash harmonies.

Not everything does this or, at least, if it does I don't know what all the influences are. There's a great female lead vocal from Beta Moraes on Todo o Céu Colorido with fascinating harmonies behind her. It's very world and very prog all at once and it's delightful. Muita Calma goes the other way with a scream to kick things off like it's going to be an aggressive punk song. An aggressive slide guitar adds to that, achingly slower than we expect, with the extreme vocals continuing at points. The point is surely irony, as Muita Calma translates to Very Calm, which the song becomes later when it starts to resemble the Verve.

There are far too many people to praise here, beyond Aru Mendonça, but I'll move João Paulo's name to the top of the list because of the guitar work he contributes to the title track. I've been listening to this a lot and will come back to it again. Maybe when I do, I'll pull that guest list out with the goal of focusing on each of those contributions. Maybe, though, I'll be just as caught up in it as I have been today.

* Saia de Si para Lá actually translates to Get Out of There.

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