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(46 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Peces 4:57 2. Planeta Porno 6:57 3. Regreso a la Autopista 4:21 4. Solo Y Acompanado 6:40 5. Danza Boreal 3:36 6. Rollel 5:33 7. Un Nuevo Amanecer 4:46 8. Suite de la Siete Virgenes 9:51 LINEUP: Jose Ignacio Lares - keyboards Gerardo Ubieda - drums Andres Clavjio - bass With: Alexis Pena - vocals (2, 5, 6) Isaias Paris - drums (3, 4, 5) Luis Contreras - bass (1) Ismel Vasquez - violin (5)
Prolusion. Venezuelan band FICCION are back with their second CD "Sobre la Cresta de la Ola". Their official debut took place four years ago with the release of "Sobre el Abismo", although all songs present on that album were written sometime in the distant '70s and were only replayed and re-recorded in 2002. Since then the group's personnel has changed quite radically, as only bandleader Jose Ignacio Lares has remained from the original lineup. Now he is backed up by (the Tempano drummer) Gerardo Ubieda and bassist Andres Clavjio, plus several guest musicians whose names you can see above. By the way, their new effort is dedicated to the memories of the Great composer Antonio Estevez, the Great keyboard maker Robert Moog and the Great scientist Albert Einstein.
Analysis. "Sobre la Cresta de la Ola" is a considerable improvement in comparison with its predecessor, all the music on which lies within the framework of classic Symphonic Progressive employing a traditional keyboard trio, which would have certainly been all right with me had it not been strongly inspired by ELP. There are only three tracks here that suit the said definition. The similarity however exists now only on a general stylistically structural level, which in turn is just due to the specificities of the genre and those of the keyboards used (Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, ARP-like string ensemble and Roland or Wurlitzer piano). These are instrumental pieces - Peces, Regreso a la Autopista and Suite de la Siete Virgenes. All are varied, dynamic, fresh-sounding compositions, the introductory theme of the opening track being the only episode on the album that reveals some unnecessary repetitions. As almost everywhere on the recording, the duels/interactions between always contrasting solos of keyboards and bass rush to the accompaniment of highly intricate drumming, weaving a complex web of patterns over a background of very frequently shifting theme and tempo. Sure, this means that each of the credited instruments is a showcase instrument for this band. The other two instrumentals, Solo Y Acompanado and Un Nuevo Amanecer, similarly make their way through a fascinating variety of themes, but this time out incorporating strong elements of Jazz-Fusion. The names of Happy The Man and National Health can only serve as rough points of comparison, no more. This trio have self-esteem; they're competent musicians with their own, very personal approach to playing the instruments they've chosen. Any of the aforementioned compositions is excellent, while the remaining three, Planeta Porno, Rollel Danza and Boreal, are masterworks, which is due not only to their compositional intelligence and profundity, but also because they are totally original, with no even hidden hints of anybody else. Each involves lyrical content (vocals in Spanish, very heartfelt), but the amount of purely instrumental arrangements exceeds that of mixed ones in all cases. Planeta Porno features quite a long solo piano improvisation, somewhere in the middle. Otherwise the music is academic symphonic Art-Rock either in pure form or being strongly classically influenced. On the path of softer arrangements suddenly appear tricky organ riffs in alliance with lush strings clashing with the bass guitar lines and seemingly fragile piano. Rollel Danza is a similar story, the only noticeable distinction lying in the presence of a long improvisational jam by the entire trio instead of a piano interlude. Boreal is the one featuring a session violin player, the man playing one of the central roles here, adding living coloration to the quite realistic-sounding yet still synthetic strings of ARP. This is still symphonic Art-Rock, but with a strong classical/academic sense throughout. The progress isn't rapid, but is distinctly evident. The sense of moderation that the musicians demonstrate here is astonishing, the melodic themes being filled with creative spirituality. Excellent too.
Conclusion. While I can't say I enjoy Ficcion as much as their countrymen Tempano, this is definitely one of the most gifted bands ever to have come out of Venezuela. Stylistically heterogeneous, their second album is much stronger than its predecessor and is a very solid effort, and its audience should not be limited to Art-Rock lovers. Recommended.
VM: June 12, 2006
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