Banda Elástica - Ai Tencargo - 2003
Banda Elastica are from Mexico, and unlike most prog-rock incarnations from that country which are Neo-Prog based, this band is a full blown atonal assault on the senses – in other words, experimental, avante-garde, dissonant and vehemently improvisational.
The band consists of Juan Alzate and David Barret playing saxophones, Guillermo Portillo on flutes & saxophones, Guillermo Gonzales playing electric & acoustic guitar, Sosimo Hernandez on bass, Luis Migeul Costero on drums & tabla, and Jose Navarro plays marimbas & percussion.
The band takes a hard-line contra melody and structure, preferring improvisation and experimentation at the writing level, allowing the music to transcend all forms of structure and defy analysis. This is not to say that the music is good or that it can be criticized for that matter, as it’s all a matter of taste in its appreciation.
The interesting embellishment that one might find buried within the noise of this record, is the use of Latin-based instruments and a subtle hue of tango in the rhythm. One would think they would be more prevalent, given their evidence in the first place, but the latin influence is very subdued.
While I found the textured, moodiness of the “Three Pieces Suite” quite interesting, and the more straight up jazz approach of “Ochre Blue” to be enjoyable, the blistering dissonance of “Modelo para armar” or “Banda 1” was much too harsh on the ears and the cadence too ponderous. Again, as a matter of personal taste, I found most of the music arrogant and self-serving, rhythmically restrained, and somewhat lumbering to provide the exciting listen that this type of music sometimes delivers.
There are a few lighter moments, like the fluttering flute on part one of “Suite Antonia”, which quickly dissolves into an aggressive jazz piece with extremely complex time signatures. In the field of progressive jazz, Banda Elastica flourishes as all instrumentalists have a knack for performance and restraint.
All in all, the music reminds me a little of Henry Cow, yet with quite a few more incorporations in style. And while RIO/Jazz fans might find something appealing here, I found only a few inspired moments before the CD’s 45 minutes abruptly came to end.