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Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Decibel is a fundamental point of reference for the preservation and refurbishment of the rock in opposition genre in Latin American lands. Originally released 20 years after the excellent, challenging debut effort "El Poeta del Ruido" (and soon afterwards rereleased with bonus tracks), "Fortuna Virilis" happens to be the ultimate statement of decibel's musical vision. This album, unlike its distant predecessor, does not give preferential room to sound processing and tape effects, but extends patently crafted instrumental travels among the expected digital resources. There is less emphasis on the influence from "In Praise"-era HC, Dedalus and engineering-driven Faust; the dominant intention is one of conquering a peculiar voice within the RIO mentality. 'El Club de los Incomparables' establishes an enthusiastic free-jazz oriented chaos that alternates laconic and extroverted passages. 'La Charamusca' focuses on ethnic cadences in a sort of sonic limbo built on the marriage of bass clarinet and sundry processed layers; the ethnic thing goes on in the next track, albeit this time it bears a fusionesque vibe, very agile despite the overall grayness. The band's gusto for musique concrete is perfectly conveyed on 'Man Ray Mantra', which shows recording artifacts articulating the sounds of strings, synths and percussion so vividly that it would make Art Zoyd or 5uu's jealous. Ahead, 'Zeliscar y Zetulba' develops a very similar scheme, in a much creepier vein; since it is segued into 'La Espuma de los Días', the latter's monotonous framework serves as a natural culmination for 'Zeliscar y Zetulba'. Previous to these two aforesaid tracks, 'Maldoror' states relaxing atmospheres that in many ways retake the overall spirit of track 3, with an overwhelming enhancement of the sense of mystery. With its 10 ½ minute span, 'Del Asesinato Considerado Como?' is a solid deconstructive exercise where the challenges of free-jazz, the somberness of minimalism, the twisted reformulation of fusion and the vision of surrealism converge in a disturbing, dreamy piece. Getting started with the sounds of rivulet flows, 'Carametexi' sounds almost like a continuation from the previous track: the main body is a massively percussive delivery, occasionally seasoned with synth washes and effects. 'El Brillo', with its eerie mood, efficiently closes down the album's official repertoire. Regarding the bonus tracks, there is also much to enjoy for the avid RIO fan. 'Contranatura' is a heavily distorted gutural speech. On the other hand' Espejismo' sounds like a ceremonious mirage that fluctuates between the creepy and the evocative, with a friendly use of fusion elements within a disturbing framework. After these two bonuses from 1992, come other two from 1996. 'Alejándose de un Lugar' begins on a very jazzy tone with added touches of 77-81 Univers Zero; it doesn't take long before the band indulges in random musical travels that break frontiers in an urgent fashion. Finally, 'Lluvia Dorada' pretty much follows in the preceding track's vein, albeit with a pronounced emphasis on the avant-garde jazz element. All in all, "Fortuna Virilis" is a hell of an avant-prog masterpiece. It is incredible how well a band from the peripheral areas of RIO could understand so vividly the genre's ideals of going beyond all known frontiers and take it magnificently to a particular stance. This is what Decibel is all about, and this album is a powerful proof for that.
Report this review (#179649)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I was so impressed with DECIBEL's debut from 1978, so my expectations were high for this their second release some 20 years later in 1998. Actually the first 10 tracks were recorded in 1998, while the next two are from 1992, and the last two from 1996.

Man, everything I loved about their debut has been pretty much changed or eliminated.This is much more difficult and less melodic, more about sounds coming and going really.There's only one track that for me recalls what I heard on the debut, and of course that song "Espejismo" from 1992 is my favourite. It opens with these deep dark sounds before we get a beat. The beat stops before 4 minutes then starts up again with violin to end it. Most of the other tracks feature different sounds that come and go with no real melody. I would have liked even some dark creepy soundscapes like on the debut, but no.

Cesar Inca is obviously impressed, I wish I felt the same way. This one just flew over my head.

Report this review (#235605)
Posted Friday, August 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Twenty years later, they kept the good sound!

Long time since I last reviewed an album from my country (besides Cabezas de Cera), so I have to start supporting them again, no matter if the band do not exist anymore, the music will always stay. There are two bands that I would catalogue as the pioneers of RIO in Mexico: Nazca and Decibel. The latter was a band whose first album saw the light in 1978 with great dark and complex music on it, however, after a twenty-year hiatus they released their second and last studio album in 1998 and the quality is still great.

The name of this album is "Fortuna Virilis", the version I have consists on ten tracks, though there is another version with fourteen songs. The line-up features some of the most recognized Mexican musicians talking about progressive rock: Carlos Alvarado, Alejandro Sánchez, Walter Schmidt, Jaime Castañeda and Carlos Robledo, all of them have been in several bands and some of them keep creating music nowadays.

With almost fifty minutes, sit comfortable and listen to the music. "El Club de los Incomparables" shows from the very first moments that dark atmosphere that reminds me of Henry Cow; when I once talked to Carlos Alvarado, he told me that Henry Cow had of course been one of their referents and inspirations, so it is not strange to listen to some hints of theirs.

With "La Charamusca" we can hear some ethnic sounds mixed with a several experimental noises that work as background. There is a nervous sound and a constant drumming that puts some tension on the music. "Kame Hame Hop" is a pretty interesting track that features some toy noises along with a soft bass sound, and creative percussions, the thing here is that after three minutes you can feel bored.

"Man Ray Mantra" creates another dark and tense atmosphere, the music combines violin, percussion and synth. There are quiet moments where one has to listen carefully in order to appreciate the sounds. "Maldoror" is a longer track and the only one that features vocals. This is an interesting song that will grow on you, as it gradually grows; the vocal work is not bad, actually there is not a singer, but just a man talking while the music progresses, there is also a girl's voice in some moments. The last part of the album has a louder sound, inviting the listener to be part of the music itself.

"Zeliscar y Zetuba" is a repetitive song that can either grow on you on make you yawn. The next song is more interesting, "La Espuma de los Días" brings back that tense or stressful sound, I really like how the musicians play separately but all are together at the same time, winds, strings and percussion working good in this short piece.

"Del Asesinato Considerado?" is the longest composition here reaching the ten minutes mark. What could you expect from this song? Easy, improvisations ala King Crimson or Henry Cow, experimental sounds, the musicians playing with their instruments and creating several textures, some stops, highs and lows, a climax, and an epilogue. While the song is rich in sounds, there are moments where I honestly wanted to skip it.

"Caramatexi" follows the same line, there is a nice variety of sounds here, like water, money or boxes, what I like here the most is the percussion sound and the entrance of synthesizer that takes me to some Popol Vuh's passages. The last song here, at least in my CD does not have a name, it is like a hidden track but I assume its name is "El Brillo". It is just a final improvisation.

After their debut "El Poeta del Ruido" nothing is the same, though they have a good sound, it cannot be compared with their first record which in my opinion is a wonder of Latin-American RIO. This time, Fortuna Virilis deserves only three stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#314968)
Posted Friday, November 12, 2010 | Review Permalink

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