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Prolusion. FLOR DE LOTO (which means Flower of the Lotus) is a Peruvian band with two albums to their credit: "Flor De Loto" and "Madre Tierra".
2005 - "Flor De Loto"
TRACK LIST: 1. La Llegada 7:20 2. Libelula 7:22 3. Negativos de Una Memoria Inexistente 6:15 4. Ayahuaska 4:10 5. El Errante 9:02 6. El Nino Y el Puerco 7:36 7. Y 1:55 8. Ritual 6:28 9. Flor de Loto 2:53 10. Suculentas Frutas 9:35 LINEUP: Johnny Perez - flute, recorder; zampona; midi sequencer Alonso Herrera - electric & acoustic guitars Jorge Puccini - drums, percussion Alejandro Jarrin - bass With: Rafael Valderrama - flute, recorder Octavio Castillo - mandolin (4) Lalo Williams - synthesizer (8)
Analysis. On their eponymous instrumental recording, Flor De Loto blends the folk music of their region with rock, sometimes even progressively so. The album has a strong beginning, La Llegada, with its moody synthesizer and mysterious Andean flute (think of Tangerine Dream's "Phaedra"), with Peruvian pipes added, and you'll have the idea of the intro. Woven through the rest of this introductory track, is the flute with acoustic and then electric guitar. Much of the rest of the album has a jam band quality, with much improvisation, soloing duties predominantly shifting between flute and guitar. There are small sections of almost chamber-like music here and bits of South American folk music there, with a distinctly Latin acoustic guitar sound. There is a touch of psychedelia (even the album art has a rather trippy style) in this first album, and although a studio album, the acoustics of the recording give it the sense of being live. All in all, it is a pleasant enough recording, though not as progressive in terms of construction of composition as one normally expects from prog, more of a prog tinged jam band sound.
2007 - Madre Tierra
TRACK LIST: 1. Madre Tierra 8:08 2. El Charango Perdido 4:57 3. El Mensajero 3:07 4. Danza Celta 3:39 5. Luz de Luna 3:32 6. Andaluces 4:09 7. Antares 3:15 8. Desapareciendo 5:19 9. La Ley de la Vida 3:37 10. Medusa 7:03 LINEUP: Johnny Perez - flute, recorders; zamponas, pututo, cajon; vocals Alonso Herrera - el. & ac. guitars; vocals Jorge Puccini - drums, percussion Alejandro Jarrin - bass; b/v
Analysis. With their sophomore release, "Madre Tierra", Flor de Loto has matured in their distinctly Peruvian prog style, creating a more cohesive and solidly constructed set of compositions. From its outset the title track conjures images of the Andes Mountains and the mist shrouded peaks of Machu Pichu with Perez's zamponas (South American pan pipes) figuring prominently, accompanied by acoustic guitar on Madre Tierra. The music swells and continues to gain power, joined by electric guitar and group vocals. There is an inter-play between the depth and power of the electric instrumentation and the folk instruments, which creates a pleasant tension in Flor de Loto's music. Just as flute was not thought of as an instrument of power until it was wielded by Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson and Focus's Thijs Van Leer, Flor de Loto offers dramatic power through their combining of electric elements and dynamically played flutes and pipes. Alejandro's bass is most often swimming in an undercurrent beneath the other instruments, but occasionally rises to the surface like a great sea fish breaking the surface in a flash of color before diving back to the depths. El Charango Purdido introduces whistles as part of their prog arsenal. Although Flor de Loto is distinctly South American in their identity, they also adventure to other lands for inspiration, such as Danza Celta and Adaluces. Danza Celta is a light Celtic romp like the title suggests, yet there is a weight to what's being played beneath the dance of the soprano recorder with the guitar, occasionally playing in tandem with the flute, like lithe and graceful dancers stepping spritely over aged slabs of stone. The band uses a chamber-like ensemble sound for Luz de Luna with acoustic instrumentation for this very pleasant waltz. Andaluces, as the name would suggest, is a Spanish piece, with acoustic guitar with a Flamenco flare, claves in addition to the drums and flute taking the lead. Antares is a high stepping lively track, very up-tempo. Desaparciendo is only the second time vocals are present, but unfortunately my knowledge of Spanish is nil and I can make no comments on the lyrical content, but the tempo and mood remind me of what the Moody Blues' Dear Diary might have sounded like, had it been conceived by Flor de Loto. Alonso's voice is pleasant, though back in the mix, with a fair amount of reverb. About midway, the otherwise laconic song heats up, the tempo quickens and Alonso's guitar takes charge, trading licks with Johnny's flute. The vocals toward the end of the song are La Ley de la Vida returns to the Peruvian panpipes, not letting us forget the point of origin of the band. Medusa completes the set, the bookend for the title track that kicks off the album, both being the two longest tracks on the album. Medusa leaves no question that this quartet has a full range of expression and that flute-laced rock can be not only full of grace, but also muscular and athletic. They are tight and Jorge's stick work is a driving force, matched with Alejandro's bass, beneath the more obvious gymnastics of the flute and guitar.
Conclusion. Flor de Loto has matured quickly in their sound from their debut album to their sophomore release. Where the first album had a freeform psychedelic jam band quality woven with their Peruvian folk roots, "Madre Tierra" has a much richer sound with more cohesive compositions. The tracks are quite varied and full of exotic flavor, though all the dishes served here are highly seasoned, with flute (of various sorts) and guitar as main ingredients. I highly recommend "Madre Tierra".
KW: Agst 18 & 19, 2007
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