Their style mixes Camel-esque melodic structures with the typical Spanish flavour of Andalusian bands, such as Iman and Cai. Basically, their music is quite symphonic, incorporating many ethnic and Arabic-like ambients. All their material is exclusively instrumental.
The band was founded in the late 80's, by three core members: Mike Starry (lead guitar), Salvador Velez (rhythm guitar) and Jose Luis Algaba (bass). A few drummers came and went to fill the duties behind the kit. Keyboard duties were shared between Mike Starry and a few guests - among them, Sebastian Fernandez, ex-Cai. Also, Pepe Torres, sax/flute player, guested now and then.
Their first CD (the only one up to date) is actually a selection of demos recorded in 1993 and 1994. They were recued and compiled under the title Tras el Puente in 2000. The band had split up in 1994, but motivated by the release of their old material, they rejoined and nowadays are enjoying some success. Their performance in BajaProg 2001 was very well received by both the crowd and the critics [they were invited back for BajaProg 2002, as a matter of fact! - Ed.]. Meanwhile, Tras el Puente has received positive reviews in many prog e-zines.
Because Tras el Puente is basically a selection of demos, the sound is a little sub-par, despite the fact that those demos were remastered. Nevertheless, you can appreciate their melodic sensibilty and crafty musicianship along each and every track. They are currently recording their second CD, or more accurately, their first proper CD.
Their line-up is currently very steady. Along with the three core members, other members of Omni are: keyboardsman Alberto Marquez (ex-Onza); Pepe Torres on sax/flute, now a permanent member; new drummer Ismael Colon entered the band in September 2001. -- Cesar Mendoza
Omni 2005 line-up - Ismael Colon (drums), Alberto Marquez (keyboards), Juan Ríos (spanish and rhythm guitars), Michael Starry (guitar) and Jesús "Chuchi" Cabral. Pepe Torres (woodwinds) not pictured.
Update, 11/16/05 :
Eventually, the second album, El Vals de los Duendes , saw the light of day in mid-2002, and it didn't take long before it was labeled as one of the best prog recordings to come out of Spain. Recapturing the musical essence of Andalusian prog forefathers Cai , Iman and Guadalquivir , instilled through the model of Camel and Wind and Wuthering -era Genesis and seasoned by noticeable flavors of Latin-jazz and fusion , the interplaying between the guitar, sax/flute and synth leads managed to be solid and delicate, firmly sustained by the well-oiled rhythm section of bass, drums and rhythm guitar. "El Vals de los Duendes" was critically acclaimed by prog fans all over the world, as it truly deserved to be. The opener "Casapuerta" exhibits progressive majesty all over itself, from the ethereal intro to the brief Flamenco-tinged center motif and, finally, the dreamy closing section. The title track comprises the biggest amount of diversity throughout its various motifs, all of them linked to each other in perfect fluidity. "Ronda de las Dunas" is the most clearly inclined to the introduction of Arabic colours and nuances, particularly in its captivatingly catchy interlude -- these three tracks are simply terrific and compelling. "Rompeolas" and "Charco la Rana" show a catchier attitude, with its nice tunes arranged on merry tempos. "Como la Noche y el Día" goes to more Cosmopolitan realms, exhibiting the Camel influence almost in the raw, while the gentle closer "Mexicali" portrays a candid, dreamy touch of twilight.
It was obvious that Omni had taken advantage of the diversity of musical ideas that all members provided during the writing and arranging process. But it didn't take too long before this same diversity gave way to musical differences, which eventually generated an internal turmoil in Omni 's line-up. Bassist Jose Luis Algaba and rhythm guitarist Salvador Velez intended to re-direct the band into the Flamenco-meets-Latin jazz trend, while founding lead guitarist Mike Starry was determined to keep the prog core intact. The crisis grew so unbearable that keyboardist Alberto Márquez (also prog-centered) quit in October 2003 and, a few days later, Starry officially dissolved the band. Fortunately, this hiatus was soon followed by a reformation before the year ended, with Starry and Márquez returning to the fold: they summoned back drummer Ismael Colón and wind player Pepe Torres , and later on, the refurbished quartet welcomed new members Jesús Cabral "Chuchi" (bass) and Juan Ríos (Spanish & rhythm guitars). Having retaken the sextet format with this new steady line-up, Omni has been working on demos of new material during 2005, while writing and rehearsing the intended repertoire for their next album, planned for a 2006 release. -- Cesar Mendoza