Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Peruvian Gold

FLOR DE LOTO – “Mundos Bizarros” CD ’09 (Mylodon, Peru) – A quick tour around the internet will tell you very quickly about the luminaries who have come from Peru. They range from Saint Rose Of Lima (the first Catholic saint to emerge from the Americas) to Paddington Bear (yup, that’s where the character originates). Included in the list are also such notables as Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order actor, who’s mother was from there), 1959 Wimbledon Champion Alex Olmedo and soccer star Nolberto Solano. Well to that interesting role call I’m about to add the name of the 4 dudes who are about to become your new favourite heavy rock band? Doubt me? C’mon, by now you should know I don’t blow smoke. I speaka da truth, son, so sit down and listen to my words.

FLOR DE LOTO are a quartet of Peruvians who have just issued their 3rd album, “Mundos Bizarros” and baby, it’s going to clean your clock. But first…let’s get a sometimes ugly piece of business out of the way. One of you, who is perhaps a bit anxious, is going to read the name of the band at the top of this review and you’re going to do it…admit it, you’re going to Google it before you read the review. When you do that, you’re going to come across those dreaded words, “progressive metal,” and you’re going to recoil in horror. You’re going to imagine visions of a curly-haired muso, sitting on a stool at a Barnes & Noble in-store, peering studiously over half-glasses at the fretboard of a custom PRS, playing some sort of convoluted Phygrian scale. STOP! RIGHT THERE! That’s over, so file it away until the next time Fates Warning reforms or whatever the hell else. No, FLOR DE LOTO is very heavy rock with innovative and unusual song structures. Think of a cross between Side 2 of the first Sabbath record and early Iron Maiden…with flutes! The foursome (Alonso Hererra – guitar, vocals; Jorge Pucchini – drums; Alejandro Jarrin – bass; Junior Pacora – woodwinds) do some wonderful stuff on this record and trying to narrow it down cut by cut over the 13 here would be patently unfair as much as a gigantic pain in the ass, so I won’t try that one. What I will describe is the flowing, organic power that surges throughout the 60-plus minutes on offer. Whether it be one of the many instrumentals (written with a memorability that belie their lack of words) or a vocal selection wherein Hererra lends his smooth mid-range pipes to the mix, there isn’t a weak spot. Hererra is a monster guitar player throughout, something you know this here scribe is just eating up! The guy is a master of going from a soft melodic and acoustic intro to a full-on barrage of metallic riffs with such ease that you’ll wonder how you got there but will be ecstatic you did. His tone is thick, full and powerful as hell and his leads are exploratory enough, with a flair that speaks of an Adrian Smith, yet never over-indulgent. In fact, that points up to something I really love about this band in general. The songs are nearly all within the 4-6 minute range, allowing the band to make a powerful statement yet surely not to wander. True, the final title track runs to the 11 ½ minute mark, but it’s construction is so gorgeous and well-done that it reminds me (in writing style, although much heavier) of the ancient, REAL Genesis. And, as a final point, I have to say that my “other” favourite thing about this bunch is the work of Junior Pacora. This cat lays down some flute work that is right up there with the best I’ve ever heard, and his playing fits the heavy music like a glove, similar to the way Ian Anderson blends his instrument into Jethro Tull's raucous fray.

All told, I may have not yet heard FLOR DE LOTO’s first 2 records but I have to say that I HAVE heard “Mundos Bizarros” many a time now, and it is simply the real deal. You can call it prog rock, progressive metal, or whatever you want. Me, I say it’s not only one of the best exports from Peru…it’s one of the best albums of the year. Bizarrely Good



The Ripple Effect said...

cool review. I'll check it out.

raysrealm said...

Man, you should, Race, this is great stuff!

Michael said...

Whoa. This is new to me too, but I'm totally impressed by the stuff on their Myspace page. Like a Latin-infused YOKE SHIRE or therabouts, these guys can play, and mighty soulfully too. I'm off to track down the CDs proper. Thanks for the tip Ray - can always count on you to uncover the good stuff.

raysrealm said...

Yeah, do it man! The interplay, especially between the guitarist and woodwind guy is fantastic.