Hipnotizados is a concept album. Its concept is very ‘now’; concerned with ‘the system’ and how it uses populism, belief, fear, power and consumerism to hypnotise and subjugate the unaware, compliant masses. Snippets of various global political, religious and business figures (e.g. Trump, Jordon Maxwell – the album’s booklet details them all, thankfully) are positioned between instrumental tracks to probe the listener’s thinking around patriotism, religion, xenophobia, consumerism and their innate ability to manipulate. Always worth a discussion. The narrative is joyously and overtly exaggerated by the on-message montage artwork of Lola Garcia Garrido that politicises the hell out of the packaging.
I’m partial to a bit of a concept, me. I like the way, if well executed, it can give my simple brain a structure; a story to hang the music around, with typically a start, middle and an end. The music then, however, needs to deliver a coherent message or a clear narrative arc. So, does the music successfully work the concept here, you ask?
What about the music: The music could easily appear a trifle trivial in the context of the overwhelming discussion taking place around it. Its creators, Orquesta Metafisica, were formed in Buenos Aires in 2009 and are led by composer Sebastian Volco, who has worked in the varied fields of classical, pop, contemporary ballet, compositions for art exhibitions, Argentinian rock and contemporary tango. Bass player, Sebastian Rosenfeldt acts as the band’s producer and is well versed in electronic music. The septet’s name is a tribute to the Argentinian metaphysician, Macedonio Fernandez. If you threw all of those experiences and influences into a sonic algorithm you’d probably end up with Metafisica’s sound. It makes fair sense; no defined genre, a kind of prog fusion of rock, jazz, tango, classical and contemporary avant-garde with a metaphysical, socially-conscious outlook. What’s not to like?
“Anestesia” opens with gorgeous, pensive strings before marching forward with a bandoneón and horn led, hard rock stomp. All instruments bring something of worth and it happily reminds me of a latin Styx. “Amnesia” is fundamentally an electronic ambient track; can’t remember who it reminds me of, though.
We then get the first of many voices, most Anglo-prominent (I can’t speak Spanish, I’m afraid, so can’t pick the others) of which is George W’s “God Bless America” address to the nation following 9/11; all dramatically fired-up by observant, judgemental violins. These voices segue effectively into the music throughout; words creating the thinkscape while the music cinematically emphasises and urges you to listen and think. In this case, the voices segue into “Bastardos Cosmicos”, a prog-lite bass line punctuated by horns, strings, keyboards; a bit like an instrumental Triana.
“Hiromy” is pure music for film; horns, strings, keyboard all busily, optimistically dancing to emphasise the important qualities of its subject. “Estrujamientos” shifts from bandoneón emoting to bass-driven, sax-wailing drama to quiet time (to allow the voices to be heard) to catastrophic breakdown.”Los Ojos” is a wonderful, watchful, reserved exploration while the piano-enlivened “La Salamanca” has an urgency even in its quieter moments.
The music’s coherence throughout ensures each track brings something important to the discussion while speaking a single language. In the latter part of the album “La Catedral” is my stand out track, with its Chris Squire momentum and ascendant voice.
This septet make one hell of a mature, detailed sound; an effortless mix of its musical influence across powerful, varied instrumentation creates unique, heightened sonics. And, in answer to the earlier question; Yes, the concept works too. Given the subject matter, it could quite easily have been a fearful, pessimistic recording. But it isn’t. It’s a space to think; to consider the complexities and implications of what’s happening in our world. That can only be a good thing, right? I just wish I could speak Spanish.
Orquesta Metafísica will present Hipnotizados on March 29th in Paris at Pan Piper