Only few people know that Anima Mundi recorded their debut album Septentrión ten years ago, six years before the well-known albums Jagannath Orbit (2008, see review) and The Way (2010, see review) were recorded. I heard this debut album only when they offered people the possibility to download it from their website without any payment. Unfortunately the album never got the attention it certainly deserved. However, recently the band released Septentrión, 10th Anniversary Re-edition which means that a decade later the album will get attention after all.
On the debut album only the two founding members of the current line-up can be heard, namely Roberto Diaz (electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals) and Virginia Peraza (keyboards, programming, backing vocals). At the time the other musicians involved were Ariel Valdés (drums, percussion), Ariel Angel (bass), Andremil Oropeza (lead vocals), Regis Rodrigues (bagpipes, recorder, whistle) and Anaisy Goméz (bagpipes, recorder, clarinet). After I had listened to this new version for the first time, one thing struck me right from the start. I was completely surprised by the excellent sound quality compared to the download version. All the individual instruments can be heard much better in the mix and thus the music sounds more dynamic and transparent.
Talking about the music is talking about their musical style ten years ago. Well, it's obvious that the music on their latest two releases were already present at the time. More than once the music reminded me of Pink Floyd, but above all influences of Yes can be heard. If you would have told me that Steve Howe played the acoustic guitar on the ballad Caleidoscopio I would have believed you. Peregrino Del Tiempo is another example of a song wherein the influences of Yes are clearly audible. Even a band as Gentle Giant briefly crossed my mind due to the use of the recorders. However, I also heard influences of new age music on Septentrión. A good example is the short opening piece Horizonte. After this intro I discovered influences of Celtic folk music due to the use of bagpipes, recorders and whistles. This musical genre can hardly be heard on the later albums. Therefore I sometimes had the idea of listening to bands like Iona, Clannad or multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley.
However, not only influences of folk from countries like Ireland or Scotland can be noticed. There's also a Latin touch, that is to say, influences of the traditional Cuban music many times appear in their music. Especially the Spanish vocals, the acoustic guitars and the Latin percussion instruments give this music a real Latin American feel! All these influences suit the band perfectly. The mixture of folk music and progressive rock certainly provides the band an original sound of their own.
People who have seen the band live on stage probably will recognize some of the tracks on this album, because the instrumental pieces La Montaña Del Vigía and El Umbral were performed during the European concerts in 2011. These tracks belong to the highlights on Septentrión. However, the title track and the already mentioned Peregrino Del Tiempo are also songs worthwhile listening to. In fact the album doesn't contain any weak tracks at all. Not only the music has been upgraded for this anniversary edition, but also the booklet has been improved and provided with many beautiful pictures and drawings. Even the Spanish lyrics are included. By doing so Anima Mundi's debut album not only got a very professional sound, but a professional look as well.
People who missed Septentrión in 2002 are advised to check out this improved version. It might be out of print or sold out a second time before you've ever heard a single note from it. Furthermore this album is highly recommended to those who own the albums Jagannath Orbit and The Way and to people who like the music recorded by bands like Iona, Clannad and Yes!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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