Argentina is the home base for talented musicians Mariano Spandafora (bass, piano, VSTI) and Tomas Barrionuevo (guitar, piano, VSTI) who make up the band Autumn Moonlight.
Armed with little more than guitar, bass, piano, and a laptop with Virtual Studio Technology (VSTI) the pair teamed up in 2009 with the simple notion of tossing around a few ideas and seeing where it might lead. Their first composition was "Autumn Moonlight Pt. I".
Satisfied with the over all results of their first joint venture the pair continued forward, adopting the instrumental style of music commonly known as progressive or ambient post-rock.
Progressive post-rock is one of the many sub-genres of progressive rock in which a minimalist approach is taken through repetition of musical motifs and chord structures which gradually build in timbre, dynamics, and texture.
Which aptly describes the music of Autumn Moonlight.
As the cohesive partnership of Spandafora and Barrionuevo gelled, they realized their potential and began compiling enough material for a full length album. And when it came time to come up with a name for the group they settled on their first composition together ... Autumn Moonlight.
The pair's finished product was the impressive 2010 debut album "The Sky Over Your Shoulders".
The 8 instrumental tracks on "The Sky Over Your Shoulders" are simple compositions with minimal tempo or structural changes, yet extremely cinematic in scope; owing more to filmscore composers like Ennio Morricone and minimalist composer Phillip Glass.
Each track evolves from a basic motif, gradually layering in nuanced textures and sweeping orchestration to build to an awe inspiring climax.
The track "T.O.R." is a perfect example of the inspired beauty and pastoral splendor created by Autumn Moonlight as the tune builds to a ethereal crescendo. It's like the melancholy end theme of a motion picture as the credits slowly scroll across the screen. Very emotional.
Highlights are "Autumn Moonlight Parts 1 & 2", "Dawn Of Atlantis", "Letters To God", "T.O.R.", "The Sky Over Your Shoulder". Heck ... the whole damn album is great.
The pastoral soundscapes continue on their 2012 follow-up album "After Reality".
But sandwiched between the symphonic ambient pieces that made "The Sky Over Your Shoulders" so appealing are tracks like "Ghost", "Outer Sunset" and "Trine" which sees the band taking a harder-edged approach. The crunchy distorted guitar chords and driving rhythms propel the music along with more aggressive momentum.
On tracks like "Odyssey" the orchestral arrangements take on a higher level of sophistication and epic grandeur.
On the whole, the 11 tracks making up "After Reality" show a marked maturity in composition, arrangements, and studio savvy. Which says a lot, considering their first album was superb.
Whereas most progressive, neo, or symphonic metal guitarists are inspired by musicians like Steve Howe, Robert Fripp, Steve Hackett, David Gilmore, Alex Lifeson, Jan Akkerman, Andrew Latimer, or John Petrucci, guitarist Tomas Barrionuevo (and many working in the progressive post-rock genre) seem to draw their inspiration from the distinctive tone quality and crunchy distortion of U2's David Howell Evans - aka - The Edge.
The album "Unforgettable Fire" immediately came to mind while listening to Barrionuevo's guitar work on both "The Sky Over Your Shoulder" and "After Reality".
Similar sounding bands include: This Will Destroy You, Qualia, Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Ros, Symphony Novel, God Is An Astronaut, Oceansize, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Massive Attack, and Enigma to name a few.
Both "The Sky Over Your Shoulders" and "After Reality" are highly recommended - and should be required listening for aficionados of symphonic post-rock, progressive ambient, minimal-prog, and dreamy space rock.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on March 30th, 2014