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Fermáta - Huascaran CD (album) cover



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5 stars Masterpiece! Outstanding fusion band, achieving their highest point here... Fantastic playing from all the group's members, each one having its own space to shine. Highly recommended. My cd has three bonus tracks which is great, because they're wonderful.
Report this review (#35476)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars An outstanding rock band recorded their best album. Mathematical precission of Tomas Berka and pure energy of Fero Griglak is combined together well. Theier talents in composing end playing is indisputable. I like this synergy of these two men. Laco Lucenic with Karol Olah did a excelent rhytm links in a mood like Yes did. Real masterpice. Go & buy it immidiately! And then enjoy true art!
Report this review (#39299)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars This third album is a concept album, based on the Peruvian 1970 earthquake that killed some 80,000 lives and had its epicenter near Huascaran. How futile the coincidence that I review this album three weeks after the next biggest earthquake took place in Chincha. It is indeed with much emotions that I have listened to this album in the last month, thinking of our fine collaborators Ivŕn, Cesar, Chus and whomever else I might forget, let alone all of the victims that suffered from this most recent event. So in their honor and with much humility, I'd like to dedicate this review to our Peruvian friends who are probably facing a few hardships, but are alive and well (as are their families), which before the Ming vase (Eeeehmmmm!!!. ;o))) and their Cd collection is the most important!

The group undergoes a big line-up change as original bassist Jaro is replaced Lucenic, while the drum stool revolves for the last time in a while with Karol Olah sitting on a big wad of glue (Eeeehmmm!!!.. ;o))) to retain it. Griglak also plunges into keyboards on this album, but it doesn't tip the scale against his guitar, since it is one of his strongest works. Karol's brother Peter will belt out a few vocal lines and they added a cello guest musician (the violinist of their previous album was virtually unnoticeable). With their poorest artwork of their discography (but giving a good idea of their western equipment), Huascaran would've deserved a more evocative artwork because of the thematic subject, at the risk of being a bit graphic.

While the lead-off first part of the title track is rather slow evolver, the track picks up intensity by the tenth minute and a few dozens of second later, a short drum solo roll describe the earthquake and the 40-minutes landslide/avalanche that resulted in the high victim toll. The next track is a solemn homage to the 80,000 victims, and this track cannot leave me without chills down my back and send goose-bumps over the rest of my body. This music is simply awesome and somehow a fantastic gift from people suffering a different kind of hardship, caught behind an iron curtain. Griglak's guitar lines in this track are soaring above Pachacamac and the Inca roots of the country.

The flipside is a good musical evocation of the international help teams and solidarity amongst men in adversity, the shorter track of the album, but hardly lesser because of it. The second part of the title track brings us back to the dramatic end of the opening movement, but it seems that the idea was to improvise a bit on the ideas developed previously. The tracks is a slow decrease of intensity and ends on birdsongs and slow bass drum hearbeat. I must actually give Fermáta a big hand to have avoided the trap of sounding "ethnic" (as using Latino rhythms or using Andean folk), as I think that it was an easy way out and might have cheapened the progressive tour de force they pulled with this album.

The Cd reissue comes with three absolutely fantastic bonus tracks, which adds even more value per money. 15 is a hard driving funk/fusion track that resembles a bit the then-recent Weather Report releases with Latino rhythms. Valparaiso (named after the Chilean seaport) is more of a Mahavishnu Orchestra and is shines like a thousand sun and is hotter than lava flowing from its crater. The short Pertpetuum I would obviously be a leftover from their debut album, but strangely enough features some heavy brass arrangements, which hints it wouldn't be the case after all.

A splendid album and Fermáta's best album (even with the bonuses) and some of the most stunning symphonic/progressive jazz- rock ever. This could easily rate with the best of UK or US jazz-rock fusion and it's a shame that Fermáta was one more victim of the Cold War, because it deserved much more. Run for this one!!

Report this review (#136319)
Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third album from this band, and usually their most praised, its concept revolves around the 1970 earthquake around Mt. Huascaran, Peru. The thing is that, in late 70's Czechoslovakia, rock albums had to have a concept to go with the recording. There was a commitee that would either approve or reject a concept based on its adherance to socialist philosophy, so even Fermáta, despite being an instrumental band, had to submit a concept for their record, and they went with the tragic earthquake during which more than 20,000 people died, including all members of a Czechoslovakian mountaineering team on an expedition. But in spite of the fact that the band chose this topic because the label demanded it, there is something inspired about the music.

On this album the band presents a completely new rhythm section of Laco Lučenič on bass and Karol Oláh on drums. Truth be told, I prefer the previous rhythm section, yet the sound of Rickenbacker, which Lučenič was using on this record, is definitely awesome, and very similar to Chris Squire's classic tones. In fact Huascaran as a whole moves out of the straight jazz-rock formula and explores more symphonic elements with Berka expanding his arsenal of sounds to include Hohner, Roland, ARP, Odyssey, and Elka strings. The sound recording quality can be seen as improved, but the album suffers from the typical late 70's production, boxy and heavily equalized and compressed.

The Huascaran suite, lasting 25 minutes, bookmarks the album in a layout similar to Pink Floyd's WYWH. It's definitely the highlight, featuring everything from typical jazz-rock improvisations, to more sentimental symphonic passages. The second part is especially great with the angular riff repeating seemingly ad infinitum, but it never gets boring. The two inside tracks are pretty good as well, especially "80,000", which harkens back to their first album, with the somewhat atypical heavy guitar riffing.

If you can, get the cd version with bonus tracks. These are excellent as well, two of them being great funky fusion, and the last one, predating Fermáta first album, is an early recording featuring a superb horn section.

Highlights: "Huascaran I+II" and "80,000".

Report this review (#152227)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars really This is very good fusion. No doubt about it. I am not sure how a totally instrumental album can be called a concept album.... but oh well... It definitely doesn't make me think of Earthquakes at all.... This sort of reminds me of Brand X but with a definite feel all its own. This is a little punchier. I actually like this album more than Brand X....which is pretty high praise for me! I need to pick up more albums by Fermata in the future!
Report this review (#174137)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars A concept album (though instrumental) about the tragic earthquake that took place in Peru in 1970. The name of the album comes from the mountain where the quake was centered. The title of the second song "80,000" refers to the number of victims from that disaster. There was a group of climbers from their country (now Slovakia) who were on that mountain at that time, and is the reason for them doing this as a tribute.

"Huascaran I" is the longest of the four tracks at close to 14 minutes. It's spacey to begin with as keys come in but they are sparse. We get a beat as bass and drums come in before 2 minutes.The violin is so mournful 5 minutes in as it calms right down. A change 8 minutes in as vocal melodies and synths take over.Tasteful guitar 9 minutes in. Another change 10 1/2 minutes in as synths come in and build as the guitar lights it up. Some huge bass after 12 minutes that goes on and on to the end. "80,000" opens with liquid keys with no real melody. We start to get a beat 1 1/2 minutes in as the sound and tempo build to a fairly heavy sound. Nice bass. It calms down 4 minutes in with a great sound to follow. Aggressive guitar 6 minutes in as drums pound away. Love it !

"Solidarity" is such a good song. More of a band effort really with some excellent interplay. It's fun just listening to all the intricate sounds. The guitar starts to make some noise after 5 minutes. It then calms right down as piano only takes over to the end. "Huascaran II" hits the ground running, very unlike Part I. Deep bass lines and impressive drumming as synths wash in the background. Guitar before 2 minutes is pretty raw. It settles 5 minutes in with chunky bass light drums and keys. The tempo picks back up 7 minutes in with tasteful guitar. A calm before 9 1/2 minutes to end it. Reflection.

A must for fans of Jazz / Fusion.

Report this review (#188756)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The third album by the king band of Slovekian prog, Fermata's "Huascaran" is one of the most accomplished works ever recorded in the realm of jazz-oriented prog rock. Being a concept album around the tragedy of Huascaran's deadly eruption (back in 1970), this album evokes ideas of destruction, power and solidarity with multiple colors and moods, all of them properly delivered through effective musical ideas and solid, tight performances. Fermata is very heavily influenced by the powerful dynamics of Mahavishnu Orchestra and special exuberance of Di Meola-era return to Forever, but there is also some important room for the delivery of soaring moods in the vein of space-rock and classic nuances on a symphonic-related note. The long namesake opener gets started with cosmic synth ornaments properly accompanied by floating electric piano lines, serving a preparation for the whole ensemble to state a full frontal jazz-rock main motif. The funky vibe that works in the rhythm section allows the band to convey warmth through the pyrotechnics, not unlike Iceberg. At the 5 minute mark, things shift toward a stylish solemnity featuring piano and cello, a soft passage that seems to portray the survivors 'grief. The sense of sadness becomes even more overwhelming in the following section, which sounds somewhat related to 73-75 era Pink Floyd with Akkerman replacing Gilmour: the symphonic element is retained all the way until the final section brings a reprise of the initial jazzy motif with augmented Latin touches. What a way to start an album!... and there is more greatness to be enjoyed, let me assure you. '80,000' is the approximated number of victims of this terrible natural disaster, and so the band decides to go for a denser mood: there is lots of heavy psych-rock and electric blues going on in this piece. The Hendrixian guitar and Zawinulesque electric piano melt amazingly well, as unlikely as it may sound in written form. Eventually, the Latin-jazz centered coda takes advantage of the fire that had been delivered during the previous section. Since the word 'Solidarity' conjures images of love for your fellowman and togetherness, it is no wonder that this track no. 3 should bear such a warmth feel on its basic compositional body. Santana seems to be the dominant reference now, although guitarist Griglák never lets go of his combined McLaughlin and Akkerman influences. This track's melodic basis is so colorful that its monotonous framework never gets boring, not even for a second. There is the long namesake closer that wraps up the album's official tracklist. Segued to 'Solidarity', 'Huascaran II' has a recurrent bizarre similarity to Iceberg during its first section. The joyful spirit delivered through the successive link of various motifs apparently alludes to the reconciliation between Man and Nature: beside the always spectacular guitar solos by Grilák, here are also the most accomplished Moog solos in the album. The last 100 seconds are occupied by synth emulations of birds' singing and wing shaking. The cosmic reconciliation has been achieved at last. This is the end for the "Huascaran" album per se, but the bonus tracks are excellent as well. '15' is very related to the funky flairs of Return to Forever's joyous side, while 'Valparaiso' is more frantic and 'Perpetuum' bears a more complex scheme. Fermata is a name that must be included in any good prog collection and/or good jazz collection, with "Huascaran" being one of its most distinguished assets. Indeed, this is a masterpiece.
Report this review (#202487)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing album of this band. To me is a masterpiece of East Progressive Rock. One of the best 70 prog albuns that I heard ever. Great bass, great guitar, great music arrangements with a great music atmosfere that made progressive rock a intelligent music and this albun is an example of that. Only instrumental and I love this piece first time I heard. This album have a litle of psichedelic space rock, a litle of synphonic prog and a litle os jazz fusion. Very good players and I think that this band was born in the West, right now are a monster of rock band. To me Fermata are a progressive monster band. Very hard to find but please, listen this work and just like me you love tihis album Essential
Report this review (#211724)
Posted Sunday, April 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Possibly the best album from one of greatest Eastern European jazz fusion band from 70-s. Whenever Red Regimes all around Eastern Europe took under control all possible written information, including songs lyrics, there were much more bigger possibilities for instrumental bands.

Music there is well balanced, heavily arranged fusion, with strong symphonic influence. Whenever all album is conceptual and based on theme of Peruvian earthquake's (in 1970) tragedy, there are some dark, dangerous and sad moments in its sound. But in general it is still bright, no way depressing. Electric guitar solos are more technical, than aggressive. Plenty of electronic keyboards made the basis for all music, but the space is filled with guitar, bass, even some strings sounds.

All the music is more good musicians team work, than soloists and back-up supporters. Musicians are very competent, so you will hardly find technically weak point there. From other hand, not too much experimentation could be found as well. Almost excellent, but a bit too safe. For sure, it is more question of taste: for every lover of harmonies and symphonic excellence, this album is almost perfect. Whenever I am more on free-jazz side, I will be glad to hear less beautiful sound ( still no way cheese, happily), but more nervous sound with fresh elements. But generally it is nuance, and I'm speaking about really great album.

Every melodic jazz fusion fan must have this work, possibly some symphonic prog lovers will be happy with it as well.

Report this review (#274072)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This symphonic jazz/rock album from Eastern Europe is a popular title amongst symphonic fans. The album excels in balancing different moods against one another, busy funky fusion sections with lots of synths alternate with gentle piano parts, sweeping guitar solos and even some pastoral vocal sections. The interplay between the members is of consistently high quality as no one takes the spotlight unnecessary or diverts the attention from the compositions.

The album is meant to tell a story and this clearly shows in the compositions, which move from scene to scene, almost like Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". In structure at least, as the music lacks dramatic impact for me, there are section that rock out, but I'm not a fan of the mellow melodic style, nor of the sympho-funk style they use at times . The production could be better as well, the instruments don't always blend together well and it's too polished and synthetic for my taste. In other words, it's the typical Progrock sound of the second half of the 70s.

This is a good fusion album, and at the same time it's an adequate symphonic album. Fans of melodic fusion like RTF should apreciate this a lot. But looking at the Eastern European scene, I prefer SBB and Blue Effect.

Report this review (#442623)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Fermata developed their musical sound in a more rock-oriented direction this time around, taking on influences from symphonic prog mainstays such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer in order to craft this concept album about the devastating Huascaran earthquake of 1970. As far as blendings of symphonic prog rock and jazz fusion go, I don't think it's as interesting as the territory fellow Iron Curtain group SBB were exploring at around these times; the fusion sections lack the fury and passion of Fermata's previous albums, and the symphonic rock sections sound lifeless and unenthusiastic to my ears. Not my cup of tea by a long way.
Report this review (#554191)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2011 | Review Permalink

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