An interesting prospect this band from ‘The Land Downunder’, Melbourne to be precise. An instrumental quartet, Montresor is the work of composer and guitarist Cameron Pikó who assembled a group of like-minded musicians with a love of Zappa and Rush to release the instrumental Daybreak album in 2011. From that line-up only Pikó and bassist Dan Nathanson remain, the rest of the band for new album Entelechy made up of Bzen Byanjankar (guitar) and Jack Osbourne (drums). With a pretty standard two guitar/bass/drums line-up things could go down a very well-trodden path but Pikó’s material successfully takes the band to some very interesting places with spectacular vistas.
As well as hints of the aforementioned influences, King Crimson roars in to smother the unsuspecting during a snarling Belewga Whale (do you see what they did there?), the twin guitars kicking up a storm, but there is so much more to Montresor than re-engineering and pastiche. They use some familiar bits and pieces but the momentum is maintained with a “Big” raw sound and the skill of the players who successfully deliver these pieces of distinct quality.
Entelechy is a much more mature album than Daybreak and Pikó has clearly put in a lot of work to develop the band’s sound in the intervening four years. It’s not all thumping and bashing, the second half of Belewga Whale features some very nice picking and a reggae vibe before being subsumed back into the belly of a very angry beast.
It can often be difficult for instrumental albums to hold the attention successfully for their entire length. Even the heroes alluded to above seldom do it for the majority of an album. Here, Montresor successfully avoid the current penchant for Post Rock and as instrumental albums go this is a particularly skilled and diverting one that covers a lot of ground built of the talents of both writer and players. They have really hit on something here.
The tracks are generally on the chunky side, longest track The Nolan featuring a particularly extended finale, the exceptions being the frenetic Supersonic, which certainly is, featuring some stratospheric soloing and good use of dynamics, and Paracelsus which is very different, a brooding sense of impending calamity just below the surface and a lovely Mellotron backing from Nathanson as Byanjankar solos forlornly, sitar also added to spice things up.
And ‘dynamics’ is the key word here. From the opening thump of the drums which jump straight into some rifftastic to-ing and fro-ing on the lead in Antarctica, this is going to be a rollercoaster ride. Pikó’s guitar is up front, often in synch with partner Byanjankar, an impressive bedrock being laid down by the rhythm section. The brilliantly titled Funkminster Bullerene is twitchy and quietly hyperactive with a good dose of downplayed funk, the guitar taking on a Middle Eastern hue for some disjointed lines. It gets heavier then quirkier but the groove carries it along through extended soloing, subtle lines emerging to carry us to a conclusion of quiet Krimson-oscity.
As noted these pieces don’t disappear down the rabbit hole of Post Rock, they truly are progressive instrumentals that excite and divert in equal measure. The pieces have room to breath but don’t feel overburdened by repetition. On Antarctica the intro returns for the finale but the filling takes in a lot of other twists and turns so this is not a case of the guys coming up with a tasty riff and then playing with it for far too long. The structures work and hold up very well, giving the band room to roam.
Daedulus is an enigmatic beast, from the pained melancholy of Pikó’s initial foray, to which Byanjankar adds a response, the band move into a stomp that has real momentum and the feel that things are going to spin off in an unexpected direction any second. The guitar takes on an almost bagpipe texture, but not sound, and then – a pause. The brooding nature of the next section is again reminiscent of Krim with some Andy Latimer fades over the top. Nice. Sparks fly from the fretboards as the stomp returns before another pause for breath, a recapitulation of the opening riff fading to nothing.
The Madman is another piece with sinister undertones, carried on a rolling rhythm that underplays the deft guitar work. It unfolds and builds through some interesting changes to a very satisfying conclusion. The Nolan, however, rampages in like a particularly annoyed bovine through a Wedgwood showroom with hints of KC and Rush in the riffing that follows. Then it’s gone, slowly building again into a swampy blues and emerging into sun-kissed soloing over a muscular rhythm. The mid-section is all in unison riffing of the old-school hard rock kind with little additions that make it into something new. The rhythms change and the time signatures fluctuate yet the whole thing retains a groove that is compelling.
Entelechy is the kind of release that should make people sit up and take notice. I’d not heard of Montresor before this release and gave it a punt. I’m glad I did and maybe you will too. With the full album available on Bandcamp there’s no reason not to try it out.
01. Antarctica (6:42)
02. Daedalus (6:49)
03. Belewga Whale (6:22)
04. Supersonic (4:25)
05. The Madman (6:57)
06. Funkminster Bullerene (6:51)
07. Paracelsus (5:15)
08. The Nolan (11:30)
Total Time – 54:51
Cameron Pikó – Guitar, Ebow, Sitar
Bzen Byanjankar – Guitar
Dan Nathanson – Bass, Mellotron
Jack Osbourne – Drums
Production & Engineering: Neil Thomason
Year Of Release: 2015
Artwork: Fall of the Damned by Henry Law.
Composed by: Cameron Pikó