Omni : El Vals de los Duendes
Hailing from Spain, Omni are a sextet of musicians who quite clearly have been strongly influenced by the styles used by Andy Latimer from Camel and Jan Akkerman from Focus as their trademark sound is liberally spread throughout much of this album which was released on the Musea label in 2002.
Using a different level of volume to begin their innings, Omni have opted for a very mellow opening that is in stark contrast to many bands who like to assault the senses with something a lot more dramatic and vibrant. Lilting guitars and flutes weave their magic for several minutes until the title track gives way to a more overt Camelesque influence at which time, you realise this is going to be one interesting and inspiring journey.
The immediate appeal of Michael Starry's talent lies in his perfectly executed guitar work which is high on melody and compositional accuracy rather than any death defying gymnastics. Equally well, the vocal input is fairly sparse, allowing the band more time to concentrate on providing the essential guitar / flute / keyboard interplay which, quite frankly, on this album, offers a much more enjoyable breed of music compared to some of those, hell bent on retaining a heavier and metallic attack. The main thrust here is in providing a full band experience rather than allowing any excessive showmanship. It works very well on 6 of the 8 songs here which is no mean feat, considering many bands fail to get the formula right for even one song.
The band have obviously spent some considerable time using a very large palette of sonic themes and textures and have crafted a very inspirational and enjoyable platter of gems that will have you regretting you had not discovered this band sooner. They have managed to embellish each song perfectly with either some tasteful saxophone, flute or percussive accompaniment and done so in a way that retains that all important melody and integrity. The keyboard and synth runs are particularly impressive towards the middle section of the album as indeed are the songs themselves as they will surely be the ones that will leave a more lasting impression on the senses.
Notwithstanding the rather slow beginning and the slightly less impressive closing track, this Filet Mignon has the tenderest morsels in the middle. Needless to say, this is one band whose remaining back catalogue needs to find its way into my house.