When a bands personnel span two distinct continents, it tends to set up certain expectations. A fusion of backgrounds and culture leads to a blend of musical styles that invariably spells originality. Salt Cathedral, a five-piece formed in 2011, and now debuting a five-track EP, is no exception. The band consists of two Columbians, guitarist Nicolas Losada and Juliana Ronderos on vocals, augmented by Floridas Silvio Vega on guitar, Canadian Stefan Bildy on drums, and New Jersey bassist Tommy Hartman. Losada and Ronderos originally worked with a different line-up, formerly known (or they might say unknown) as Il Abanico. The current team came together in Boston and is now based in Brooklyn…still with me?
Salt Cathedral combines elements of math rock, strictly in their complex guitar work and stabbing percussion structures, with a looser rhythmic feel that stems from its South American core. On Move Along, Ronderos glides her soft, echoing vocals toward a higher register that courses over a melange of guitar, bass, and percussion. This lush migration begins sparse and takes on more color as it continues. The stormy Dirty Me follows and wields a slightly harder, angular edge to their music, leaving Ronderos to her own wits as she flits like a butterfly through a haze of quick fire guitar licks and scintillating beats.
Spirits are grounded amidst Fields, a delicious, jazz inflected workout, while “Black And White” recalls prog giants, Yes, in its interplay of riff and rhythm. What’s fascinating is how, similar to English singer-songwriter Jon Anderson, Ronderos uses her voice as an instrument, penning lyrics with as much focus on their sound as their meaning. Imogen Heap also comes to mind. Throughout the EP, the band weaves intricate shapes to create music that’s both rhythmic and labyrinthine. The final track, Take Me To The Sea, with its spindly guitar figures and twinkling vocals takes many of the preceding elements and merges them joyously into a homage to escapism: Lets go fly away, fly away, fly away
Odds are they’ll do just that — and soon.
Essential Tracks: Dirty Me , Take Me To The Sea