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MP3 Sonus Umbra - Spiritual Vertigo

Melodic prog rock of brooding intensity. Come sample the sound of shadow...

10 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Progressive Rock, ROCK: Hard Rock

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Sonus Umbra

Did you ever hear of Spiritual Vertigo? The band Sonus Umbra knows what it is. The point is clear on
their new release. This project is all about having a fear of being spiritual and standing up tall without getting
dizzy and falling because we believe in a God of our choosing. This serves as a reminder that we are indeed
spiritual beings regardless of whom or what we choose to call our God. The problem since the beginning of
time is all the arguments humanity has created over this subject, which makes for a "Fool''s Arcadia" that
promotes "Self Erosion." This album is an improvement from the 2001 release Snapshots From
Limbo, which was an excellent release. I was pleased to hear that the band is progressing and
developing since their last studio outing.

This music is very progressive, combining the elements of rock and jazz. This band is comparable to a tropical bird
displaying its splendid plumage, showing off their colors with a wealth of fusion elements within each track. The Alan
Parsons Project came to mind frequently while listening to this CD, particularly with the vocals of Andres Aullet. I did not
recognize that aspect on the last album, which indicates that they have indeed improved. The lead guitar playing of
Ricardo Gomez (Carlos Alomar, whom recorded some great albums with David Bowie, may have been an influence at
some point) is superb and the rhythm section of Luis Nasser (bass, keyboards, acoustic guitars) and Jeff Laramee
(drums, vocals) are an outstanding team that lays the foundation that this musical stronghold is built upon. Nasser is a fine
multi-instrumentalist with an acute ear for the rhythm of each musician in the band; he is the beating heart of the unit.

Most of the tracks are typical prog-rock compositions with extended run times and the complexities that you would expect
in a song over three minutes. Their magnum opus is the nearly 11 minute closer "Snakes and Ladders," which ends with a
brief empty space...an eerie silence, which has you thinking the album is over, but it is not. A woman starts singing to the
sound of a honky-tonk piano and you then hear a disgruntled individual groan, then suddenly a loud gunshot goes off,
which will scare the hell out of you, and then the CD ends. This ending comes as no surprise considering the premise of
the album. This is how many arguments in the name of God have ended. It is sad but true, as the history of humankind
has shown us that the acceptance of one another for whom we are is our biggest downfall.

This recording will not require many listens to understand, however you will want to hear it several times, as it grows on
you with each subsequent listening experience. Trust me, this one was well worth the wait.

©"Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
January 3, 2003

Rating- 5 / 5

From what I know, Spiritual Vertigo is Sonus Umbra''s third studio release, though I''ve never heard their first one. However, having listened to both Snapshots from Limbo and Spiritual Vertigo hundreds of times, I can assure you that this band can do wrong. They''re an amazingly talented bunch of musicians led by multi-instrumentalist Luis Nasser whose main instrument is the bass. Nasser started out his band back in his homeland Mexico before he moved to the USA. I believe Spiritual Vertigo was written in America, whilst the first two discs came out in Mexico as independent releases.

Sonus Umbra is a very dark progressive rock band with thought-provoking lyrics, great melodies, excellent male vocals with occasional female back-ups, a thundering rhythm section and the indescribable bass playing of Luis Nasser. I am absolutely impressed with Nasser''s bass guitar playing and I have to point out that I''ve never heard another band whose music revolves around the bass like this. It''s not the technicality or complexity in Nasser''s phrasing that I admire, but moreso his tone, articulation and feel. His subtle rhythmic patterns abound the compositions like the rhythm of an irregular heart beat and draw your attention immediately. Nasser also plays acoustic and electric guitars as well as keyboards. He''s also the primary songwriter and lyricist of Sonus Umbra. Vocalist Andre Aullet possesses a midrange, clear melodic voice that marks the songs with depth and emotion throughout. There is also Ricardo Gomez on lead guitars, though not in overabundance, and Gomez plays great melodies that embellish the tunes without detracting from them. I am familiar with drummer Jeff Laramee from his own band, Kurgan''s Bane, who are in a similar musical vein with Sonus Umbra. Again, Kurgan''s Bane vocalist, Lisa Francis, appears on this record lending her distinct vocals in a few tracks.

The music... well, this is certainly great American (or should I say Mexican?) prog rock, but it''s very dark in style and composition. The music is mainly acoustic guitar-driven with occasional electric guitars soaring briefly without overstepping the songs'' boundaries, and perfectly fitting melodic vocals. As I said before, Luis Nasser''s bass leaves its blueprint on pretty much every song here, not to mention his analog keys and lush piano work. I could safely recommend this album to fans of Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Nightingale, Illuvatar, Chaos Code, etc. Sonus Umbra being criminally overlooked, I believe whoever discovers them would shudder in awe at their unparalleled sophistication. Spiritual Vertigo is not a concept album per se, but there''s an underlying theme that nicely unifies the lyrics explored here. The album begins with scary gun shots followed by Nasser''s sparse bass notes and anti-capitalist lyrical approach on "Bone Machines". The 8-minute song, "Fool''s Arcadia", is very representative of what Spiritual Vertigo is about. Aullet''s melodic, yet also deeply emotional vocals really come through with the help of the dark acoustic guitars and Nasser''s THROBBING bass sound. This is a song about civil war and the way people are deceived by politicians. "Man of Anger" contains a greatly inspired electric solo before we are tied in with the 7-minute instrumental, "Fascinoma". The bass shudders and electric guitars wail, whilst the acoustic guitars provide a nice sense of contrast.

Lyrically, this album is very political. However, this isn''t one of those politically one-sided discs offering no perspective. Nasser''s lyrics are deeply profound and surprisingly easy to identify with. The "Amnesia Junkies" tune is divided in two tracks: "Part 1 - Pax Americana" and "Part 2 - Pax Israelica". On the former, Nasser offers his insight on American politics with Lisa Francis doing backing vocals. The lyrics here should be studied hard. Just have a look here: "This great ''democracy'' reeks of death and hypocrisy/ Built on broken backs and slavery". In "Part 2 - Pax Israelica", however, the mood of the song takes a 180 and becomes this dark, angry piece. A wicked keyboard melody begins to run beneath the main riff while the lyrics explore political issues and the violence committed in Palestine. Lisa Francis does some solo lead vocals on "Rust in My Sleep" with Nasser''s great bass and progressive songwriting. The climax of the album, however, is the 10-minute epic, "Snakes and Ladders", a composition marked with distinct signs of maturity and lots of rhytmical and melody changes. The song questions the aspects of human existence and delivers a very spiritual message. Unfortunately it ends with a scary gun shot that suddenly explodes out of your speakers after a few minutes'' silence and that shot always makes me uncomfortable and leaves a big lump in my throat. You need this disc if you like dark prog rock.

Murat Batmaz,
ZOR Magazine,
Istanbul, Turkey.

A band that has not only developed its own sound, but a brilliantly new lyrical approach. Put simply: this is music that is not to be toyed around with.

Marcelo Silveyra

"Progressive rock is usually not a part of my musical first aid kit. But when the pills taste as good as the ones from this band''s candy store it''s close to be sensational. The sound is brilliant and emphasizes the band''s strong melodic character, the complexity of the compositions and the excellent performance. You can hear that these musicians play from the heart and that they have avoided most of the common prog rock traps. Very promising indeed!"

Beat The Blizzard
AJ. Blisten

"It''s a rare symphonic prog band these days that can get me to perk up, but I daresay Sonus Umbra is becoming one of them."
Brandon Wu
Ground And Sky

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