Fr?gil - Sorpresa Del Tiempo

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4423.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:07:00

Sorpresa Del Tiempo is the first live album from Peru's Frágil, a symphonic progressive rock band who are, according to the press sheet from Musea Records, "really famous in Peru." Well, listening to Sorpresa Del Tiempo they really should be famous all over the world. Not only is this a wonderfully recorded live release - although it is not perfect; there are obvious breaks between tracks that halt the flow a bit -- but the music it captures is equally wonderful. And rare for a live release these days, the audience hasn't been mixed down. You can hear them applaud, sing along, and cheer just as if you were there, about 10 rows back. In fact, this is what gives this release its immediacy.

I was not familiar with Frágil when I first heard this, but they are certainly worthy of an extended look. Having formed in 1975, the line up of this band has stayed consistent from album to album (even if Dulude has been in out of the band in between). Vocalist Andrés Dulude has a very nice voice, warm and inviting. Backing him is Luis Valderrama on guitar, playing lyrical guitar lines that so appeal to me; Octavio Castillo on very symphonic keyboards, and flute; everything grounded by César Bustamante on bass and Jorge Durand on drums and percussion.

Okay, cooing over the band should end here, right? I should tell you why I'm singing their praises. Wonderful keyboards (and well placed in the mix, one of my live pet peeves), flute, vocals, guitar, drums, etc. You will hear the influence of Yes and Genesis, but after a few moments, you just forget comparisons and listen to what this quintet are playing. And on Sorpressa Del Tiempo, they are backed by a 26-pice philharmonic orchestra. Nine of the set's fourteen tracks appear on Avenida Larco (1981), and two are from Serranio (1990). Two of the last three "Fotograma," and "Sorpresa Del Tiempo" are new pieces. What one gets is a mix of mellow and energetic pieces, some with an almost pop flavor. They may be too pop for some, especially if you're expecting something overly influenced by Yes. Valderrama is the kind guitarist that might be compared at times to Steve Howe, but there a few occasions where I thought of Steve Rothery.

"Mundo Raro" is the kind of track - mellow and lush - that you're almost certain that the audience, who is singing along, are also swaying back and forth. And in that, latter day Genesis come to mind ("Afterglow" for example), which does mean that Frágil do venture closer to a pop sensibility than a progressive rock sensibility. And the bouncy friendliness of "Pastas Pepas Y Otros Postres" is infectious, and is a lively, foot-tapping piece. They follow this up with the lovely and, well, Frágile, "Lizy," which is opened by a gentle acoustic guitar (Dulude) and flute along with the subtle swell of the brass and string section of the orchestra. Castillo plays an especially trilly flute here, and without sounding new agey here, reminds me of birds in flight in some paradise-like setting. "Oda Al Tulipan" is much rockier tune, not quite as cheerfully bouncy as some of the others (at least not at first) - closer to a progressive rock. Perhaps due to the use of flute, "El Caimen" hints a bit at Jethro Tull, but also there are hints of 80s Genesis (and, mmm, some very nice, warm sax played here, too). And as the title suggests, "Le Dicen Rock" rocks. Well, as much as symphonic prog band "rocks" - I mean, we're not talking metal here. We are treated to some more screaming sax here, almost as if Clarence Clemons had joined the band on stage.

Things get a little strange beginning with "El Abuelo" ("The Grandfathers," in translation), as over atmospheric keys and some effects, we get distorted, digitized vocals reciting an intro to "Animales" - a track that sounds to me eerily close to the verse parts of "Maniac" (you know, the song from the movie Flashdance). It is a darker piece, with a throaty bass and guitar grinding out the rhythm behind Dulude's vocals. "Caras" is a sultrier piece (think a bit of Genesis' "Mama" and "I Can't Dance") with a heavy percussive rhythm. Here we get some screaming guitar leads from Valderrama, a far cry from the more lyrical leads of the previous tracks (indicating a shift in style from one album to the next). But some great Latin influenced percussion here from Durand.

"Fotograma" is a studio track that has a decidedly popish feel to it - actually, a bit like late-80s Alan Parson Project at times, especially in the hazy feel, with some keyboard phrases that sound lifted from Rush's Signals. Like some of the earlier material (and unlike Rush), it is upbeat and cheerful. Yet, the final track, the title track, is a flute-led piece, a bit pastoral (even down to chirping birds) to begin with. Later it gets a bit Celtic, a bit like Tull, and just a bit too bright and light to be like either. It's mainly in the slide guitar of Valderrama that that Celtic feel creeps in. It, too, is a studio track.

A word about that orchestra - why I think it works here is that the orchestra seems an organic part of the arrangement. As mentioned, I'm not familiar with the band, so how much the orchestra adds or detracts from the original compositions, I can't say, but somehow it seems like a natural and unforced fit.

Obertura (6:19) / Av. Larco (4:09) / Mundo Raro (5:18) / Pastas Pepas Y Otros Postres (3:38) / Lizy (3:27) / Esto Es Iluminación (3:14) / Oda Al Tulipan (5:15) / REl Caiman (7:03) / Le Dicen Rock (3:40) / El Abuelo (1:48) / Animales (4:20) / Caras (3:54) / Fotograma (4:03) / Sorpresa del Tiempo (3:52)

Andrés Dulude - vocals and acoustic guitar
Caesar Bustamante - bass
Luis Valderrama - guitar
Octabio Castle - keyboards & flute
Jorge Durand - drums & percussion

Avenida Larco (1980)
Serranio (1988)
Frágil (1990/2007)
Cuento Real (1992/2007)
Alunado (1997)
Sorpresa Del Tiempo (2003)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin PE

Added: November 2nd 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 628
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]