"Donde Nos Habíamos Quedado," the leadoff track on Factor Burzaco's third album -- and second release on AltrOck -- starts with singer Carolina Restuccia's rather childlike voice, accompanied by Pedro Chalkho's acoustic guitar, in a 180-degree turnaround from 2011's II, whose opener, "Beginnin," leapt out in startlingly abrupt fashion with a low chord bash and Restuccia's drawn-out guttural shout. But just as composer and Factor Burzaco founder Abel Gilbert kept listeners guessing from the "Beginnin" to end of II, he is a quick-change artist on 2014's 3 as well. The two-minute "Beginnin" included intimate whispers, abrupt harmonized vocal bursts, and extended reed techniques, and 3's "Donde Nos Habíamos Quedado," nearly identical in length, soon reveals similarities, as Restuccia asks (in Spanish) if you intend to "fill the silence with your fears" and a single chord is repeated in an insistent martial beat, followed by low reed multiphonics and the singer's abstract wordless vocalizing. Nevertheless, the track's initial intimate, singsongy feel does signal a measure of warmth throughout 3, as, for example, a wash of sound on "Las" is created organically by Sergio Catalán's overblown flute instead of the type of electronic processing Mauro Zannoli employed on II. Meanwhile, Marcelo Delgado, orchestra director on both II and 2007's Factor Burzaco, has departed, as have instruments like bassoon, oboe, violin, and cello, leaving guest musicians on flute, saxes, clarinets, and keyboards to complement the project's core trio this time around. Here, the full integration of the band's "rock" and "classical" sides during the stops and starts of second track "La Vera Storia di Tristan O." might remind AltrOck listeners of Oakland, California-based avant-prog pranksters miRthkon (or Western Culture-era Henry Cow).
Factor Burzaco remains a project with an episodic quality informed by sung/spoken texts. 3's texts are not derived from a single author as on the first two albums; rather, Gilbert takes lyrical inspiration from iconic Argentine rock figure Luis Alberto Spinetta, essayist Alejandro Kaufman, and even a controversial quotation from Arnold Schoenberg, repeated mantra-like in echoing deterioration -- the most overt example of II-style sound processing -- by three children, including Gilbert's son Andres, on the 14-minute album-closing opus "Silicio." The aforementioned "Las," featuring Restuccia initially accompanied by avant chamber reeds and flute and later by members of the a cappella El Nonsense Ensamble Vocal de Solistas, is a heartfelt, then somewhat eerie, and ultimately reverent setting for Spinetta's words. But for those drawn to Factor Burzaco's lively side, punched-up tracks like "Evasión Imposible," "Inter Dicción," and the grooving and, yes, funky "Soga Func" reveal that guitarist Chalkho, drummer, percussionist, and vibraphonist Facundo Negri, and bassist Carlos Quebrada Vazquez can kick up some dust in the artiest of surroundings. And even on an album as instrumentally oriented as 3, the alternately sweet and sharply cutting Restuccia -- a 21st century Argentine Dagmar Krause -- is a force that ties together the disparate elements of Abel Gilbert's sound world with her extraordinary vocal presence and singular personality. ~ Dave Lynch