Progrock Is Back | Montresor: Autopoiesis (Independent / 24 May 2024)

Progrock Is Back
Montresor: Autopoiesis
(Independent / 24 May 2024)

'The first album in 9 years was a long time in the making, with some compositions dating back to 2018's February Album Writing Month challenge. 'Autopoiesis' is an extended labor of love...paying tribute to a lesser-known subgenre of progressive music with a fascinating history, the short-lived Rock in Opposition (RIO) movement of the late 70s. Influenced by RIO bands such as Henry Cow and Univers Zero, the music fuses technical instrumental progressive rock with classical instrumentation.'

Montresor - CD

You don't actually need to know all that background to enjoy the album, as it turns out. Montresor offers a few more thoughts on the music:

...the music fuses technical instrumental progressive rock with classical instrumentation: clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, piano, harpsichord and marimba alongside guitars, bass and drums. (I) navigate oddly timed rhythms, polymeters and bitonality thanks to a host of skilled musicians (on the album).

Australian guitarist, composer and musical dadaism afficionado Cameron Pikó is (aka) Montresor, and Autopoiesis is his third album. He's a serious devotee of progressive and experimental rock, and it shows.

The compositions or orchestral in their scope, even though they're held down by a basic rock trio at the centre of the sound. The music is complex, layered, and often dense. 

Farmland has a contemporary jazz edge to it, and a repetitive pattern that becomes hypnotic. It's hard to be a progrock fan and not reference Gentle Giant at least once... (or perhaps twice, again in the opening to Bildungsroman).

The mood throughout the album ranges from moody avant-garde-ish to contemporary jazz and back, through the realm of contemporary classical. This is a world where guitar prowess is about maintaining the military precision of the complicated patterns, and not anthemic guitar hero riffs.

Homunculus is the shortest track at 3:44, making up for it with a quickly established ominous mood, and a pattern that develops through a subdued clarinet, and piano.

It's complicated music, interesting, and not just intellectually so. There's a groove and a constant sense of momentum that propels the tracks. 

Instrumental music is a tougher sell in the music market, although orchestral music is enjoying an overall boost at the moment. Perhaps that will extend to prog rock and worthy practitioners like Montresor.

Musician Names/Instruments: Cameron Pikó - guitars; Chris Martin – bassoon; Stuart Byrne – bass clarinet; Charlie Cawood – bass guitar; Vilan Mai – clarinet; Morgan Ågren – drums (1-2, 6-8); Gerry Pantazsis – drums (3-5); Phil Turcio – piano; Richard Allison and Gabriel Riccio – additional keys