indignu has made great strides since releasing its debut album, Fetus in fetu, in 2010. What’s that, you say? You haven’t heard of them? This Portuguese post-rock quintet may have flown under the international radar until now, but 2013 should be their year. Odyssea is a success from start to finish, a concept album bound in a beautiful hard-bound book (I bought one myself). An expanded roster this time out makes the band sound like an orchestra. By the second track, post-rock fans will be thinking of Mono’s recent efforts. The thickness of the guitars is offset by the sweetness of the strings. The drums switch from crashing to rhythmic, changing the mood at the drop of a high-hat. Massive crescendoes wait to pounce, and pounce they do, running away like the wild horse pictured on the album’s front cover.
Five musicians can make quite a lovely noise, but ten can create a cacophony. The trick is to know when to hold back,, and to know when to call on the efforts of the full arsenal. When the band calls a retreat midway through “caravela na ponta dos”, the Portuguese guitar gets the chance to shine – a local spotlight that the fans in Barcelos certainly appreciate, as well as those who value originality. As often stated in post-rock reviews, it’s important to present a distinguishing element, and this one fits the bill.
Odyssea is divided into prologue, epilogue, and five capitulos (chapters), inviting the listener to experience the album as a whole and formulate a narrative. The Portuguese titles reference darkness, clouds and rain, as well as the island of St. Helena, discovered by the Portuguese in 1502 and later the location of Napoleon’s exile. But one need not recall Homer, or Catholic saints, or Napoleon in order to glean meaning from the recording, whose inner line illustrations tell a phantasmagorical story. This is a journey into strange lands. Listeners are likely to be borne along like broken ships guided by temperamental winds. If by the epilogue they alight on a mysterious island, perhaps it is better that they never return; none would believe their report.
Those who enjoy melodic orchestral post-rock are advised to seek this album out immediately, and for the reasons stated above, we recommend the hard copy. A tender, poignant video is attached to the project as well. A few years can make all the difference, and the band’s own sonic odyssey has brought them through uncharted waters to a distant, yet welcoming shore. (Richard Allen)