On Altamira Darts & Arrows have a unique sound, it’s something like Frank Zappa playing with Fairport Convention. It is prog with a post punk edge. There is a touch of John Scofield here and there and a bit of a Santana, but it always sounds fresh and original. Even if the atmosphere is murky with deliberate distortions and effects that form a musical fog around the instruments. The opener ‘Evergreen’ is not an easy number to start with, I was in the midst of sending a rant to the person who provided the review sample when I changed my mind and became transfixed by the music.
The band consists of musicians that don’t seem to be able to decide whether they are prog rockers or jazznicks with an attitude, they are: Bill MacKay – guitar, Ben Boye – keys, Kyle Hernandez – bass and Quin Kirchner – drums. Their site describes them as: “One of the most promising bands on Chicago’s experimental rock and new music scene in recent years. Calling Altamira the quartet’s most fully realized effort, retaining the edgy vitality of their improvised work while painting beautifully textured sonic pictures on a series of through-composed pieces.”
The sound is very compressed but as the music is often accompanied by distortion effects it hardly matters. Either way it has an original something that makes such considerations almost unimportant. To my ears the quietest track ‘Carried There & Ponytailed’, with its long eerie Pink Floyd’ish themes, was by far the most evocative and special of the lot. This is an album that the brave few who get through the first three minutes of the first track will remember for years to come. The album is worth discovering and fans of Zappa, Medeski Martin & Wood, John Scofield and Shakti should form a line this way please. Turn on, tune in, and raise the volume.