Cóndor – El valle del Cóndor (2018)

Progressive rock came out of jazz jams in which the goal was to see how long you could keep a song going by inventing variations on its internal structures. Having had high school education in classical music, European rock musicians threw those structures into the mix and tried to see how long they could keep the song together, or coherent.

Cóndor comes into this picture from another angle, which is equal parts heavy metal and folk rock, and keeps the mix afloat through variety which branches off from one theme that guides each song. This enables the songs to stay together without forcing uniformity, since we the audience know where each part is heading in that we know where it will return, which allows Cóndor to play around with wandering away from the main in order to come back for a stirring return.

Borrowing from the riff lexicon more of garage heavy metal than underground death metal, El valle del Cóndor uses a driving riff to establish the theme of a song, then fleshes it out with avantgarde lead guitar that is more playful than virtuosic although definitely no slouch in the technicality department. On top of that, detours into folkish choruses and pastoral rhythmic riffing give the band time and space to string together its related concepts, exploring territory in search of a path.

With influences ranging from Absurd to King Crimson, Cóndor will strike most progressive rock fans as not prog enough, most metal fans as not metal enough, and folk fans as too loud, but really this album seems exploratory in the way that the pre-prog 1960s were. Perhaps if the band were to listen again, and then try to reinterpret this album even without the Rottweiler-on-meth vocals, it would come out more coherently, but that might lose some of its charm.

In the meantime, it makes sense to enjoy this for what it is: a Wild West of influences crashing together in an undefined center, delighted more for the questions it asks than the ones it answers, finding melodies springing up from the clash of its raw elements, and forever in search of the elusive beauty it sometimes reveals.

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9 thoughts on “Cóndor – El valle del Cóndor (2018)”

  1. Bolchevique Andina says:

    Song posted reminds of very old The Chasm with maybe more precision, more meandering, and possibly worse production… Interesting. Wild West (or “sur salvaje”) indeed.

    1. The meandering strikes me as more pastoral than random on this one. They could refocus it, but I think they want it to be this way. It makes it less effective as competitive music, but for people who will listen to it anyway, more reflects the pace of life. Some of Texas country music is the same way. They could pump up the chorus, calibrate the beats between verse and chorus to keep energy high, and sweeten the melody, but the point is that it is like life itself, with ups and downs and lots of states in between, spread out over a sprawling landscape where each hollow and vale has its own spirit, its unique flavor and presence… so I think I understand this, and this is more controlled, deliberate, and focused than the last effort from this band.

      1. trystero says:

        “It’s not good, but its honest”

        1. Dirty Blonde Hair Blue Eyes Negro Son Probably Not Mine In All Honesty But I Cannot Afford Paternity Testing says:

          Fuck off. Brett is being honest and assessing this for what it’s trying to do not what he thinks it should do instead.

        2. I think it’s good; it is not, however, packaged for immediate consumption, nor is it all that exciting. It fits with a certain mood or time and place. Is it as good as Pure Holocaust? That is both good and more immediate. I think this band is trying for something specific to their region, and much like most highly region specific folk music is not that exciting, it is not that exciting, but it is articulate and evocative.

          1. I want to hear some of the pastoral texas country music you are talking about. Whats a good place to start?

            1. I do not remember any names to cite, and am not really sure I should mention specifics anyway, but if you get off the beaten path in Texas, it’s there…

  2. Zuckuss says:

    How does this compare to their first two albums (have not heard the 3rd)? The posted song seems way more disjointed than the early stuff.

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