Although both Ángel Ontalva and Vespero were active in their own right (and in Ontalva’s case there was also an October Equus album) following from the release of ‘Carta Marina’, they came back together in 2020, and the result is ‘Sada’. It was exactly the same line-up of musicians, but this time the avant-garde Vespero and RIO Ontalva took the music in a somewhat more measured direction than last time. There is more space in this album, and it does not feel quite as compressed and frantic, as if there were more thought and care combined with a stronger sense of direction. Mind you, for all that, they lose none of the complexity and the listener still never knows where the music is going to take them.
Violin often combines with guitars, following the melody while the rhythm section keep it tight and keyboards provide a backdrop, yet there are others where all hell breaks loose and no-one knows who is going to take control. Contrast that to “Her Eyes Sparkled in a Strange Way” which has a beautiful introduction with picked guitars, shining and vibrant violin, with the bass and drums only coming in after a few bars, keeping it mellow and delicate. One of the real delights of this instrumental album is that one never knows where it is going to go, as both Vespero and Ontalva are well-known acts in their own right, in slightly different fields, so they both compromise and learn from each other as they also do not know what the final result is going to be like. Both these albums are absolutely essential, and I certainly hope this collaboration is going to continue in the future.
9/10 Kev Rowland