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DECIBEL

RIO/Avant-Prog • Mexico


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Decibel biography
A Mexican chamber/RIO band which formed back in 1974 as a trio (keyboardist Carlos Robledo, bassist Walter Schmidt, and percussionist Moises Romero, later replaced by Jaime Casteñeda), that expanded after 6 months into a sextet. The lineup on their first album included Carlos Robledo on keyboards, Walter Schmidt on bass, Jaime Castañeda on drums and percussion, Carlos Alvarado on keyboards, Alejandro Sanchez on violin (who later on formed Nazca) and Javier Becerra on sax.

They were influenced by bands such as Henry Cow, Faust, Magma, Il Balletto Di Bronzo and others, and by 20th century composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen. They composed tracks that sound hectic and disorganized and on the debut(?) also created beautiful chamber music with their line up of keyboards, bass, drums, saxophones and violin. Their sound is usually thought of as being warmer than the "cold attitude" of chamber groups such as Art Zoyd.

1978 saw them releasing what is considered their chef d'oeuvre - El Poeta Del Ruido, which was released in a pressing of 1,000 and distributed in the UK by Recommended in 1980. Decibel reformed during the 90's and did some live shows (and released a live album).

The Israeli label MIO released a boxset consisting of all their studio releases and live material plus some rare unreleased material. This boxset features a 28 page booklet with three CD's (details below).


The first CD features the following: the complete unedited album 'El Poeta Del Ruido'; unreleased UNAM sessions, one of which was on the ReR sampler but never released on CD; plus the 1st RIO Festival live performance held at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in Mexico City.

The 2nd CD features the 90's material including the band's improvised album Furtuna Virilis and other unreleased material.

The 3rd CD is a new live performance of new material never released before on CD plus 30 minutes of music from the 1977-1978 period.

The last time that they played together was in 2003; in ExCinema Teresa in Mexico City (the performance was recorded). Neither Javier Baviera nor Jaime Castañeda played in that concert. Replacing them were Carlos Bonnet on percusion and Juan Carlos Ruiz (Nazca) on bassoon.

Carlos Alvarado (keyboard player) is also famous for having collaborated with many bands and making several solo albums. Alvarado was also a member of the band Chac Mool.

Many thanks to Guillermo (Memowakeman) for ...
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El Poeta Del RuidoEl Poeta Del Ruido
Vam Records 2014
Audio CD$17.88
DecibelDecibel
EP · Single
Tectonic 2012
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DECIBEL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DECIBEL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.11 | 14 ratings
El Poeta Del Ruido
1978
3.66 | 5 ratings
Fortuna Virilis
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
El Viaje a la Luna
2012

DECIBEL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 3 ratings
In Concert
2000

DECIBEL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DECIBEL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Fiat Lux
2003

DECIBEL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

DECIBEL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 El Poeta Del Ruido by DECIBEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.11 | 14 ratings

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El Poeta Del Ruido
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt

3 stars Well! This is going to be tough! Understanding and considering beforehand that this was a "low-budget", "independent production" and the worst part; for a project like this, "studio-time rushed"... "El Poeta del Ruido" turned out fine. I will never have thought of writing a listing of so many justifications. Anyway; setting those things aside; song-writing and performances are weak. I always thought of Carlos Robledo as the one who was more versed music-wise; than his friends/music-colleagues. You can sense it easily in his piano composition and other participations. BUT being RIO; there was no room for personal leadership and figures (he himself is a low-profile artist).- But/ And random compositions of course can turn out magnificent; but not as rule. Sometimes not at first-hand and sometimes it does not happen at all... I will not mention the use of pre-hispanic instruments as discovering "fire"; as their use is quiet rudimental and cliched. I can not forgive this or that; because at the time "world-wide" lots of people "high-budget and low" already were producing; "no excuses needed" masterworks. Perhaps a bit of more musician-ship or rehearsal time, less relying on "random" structures or more time to pick the best sessions....Maybe? ***3 "I know its a proto-RIO mexican effort; but; there are just to many "BUTS" Stars. PD; It would not offend your ears and its emblematic!!

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 Fortuna Virilis by DECIBEL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 5 ratings

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Fortuna Virilis
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator 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!

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 El Poeta Del Ruido by DECIBEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.11 | 14 ratings

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El Poeta Del Ruido
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Another excellent Mexican record!

Decibel were one of the best bands that came from my country, sadly as many of them, they no longer exist. Their music is oriented to the avant-garde / RIO side of prog, influenced clearly by Henry Cow among others (and said by Carlos Alvarado, who I spoke to some years ago) and trying to make a stronger progressive rock front in Mexico, along with some other bands such as Nazca or Iconoclasta which were very representative in the 80s.

The band featured excellent musicians who had previous musical experience, all of them trained and very talented, which is why this album sounds so good. Decibel released back in 1978 this album entitled "El Poeta del Ruido" which I dare say was their most successful record, containing more than 36 minutes of excellent, well crafted and intelligent music.

The album kicks off with the title track, which starts with some strange noises for 30 seconds, and later changes into a challenging and outstanding sound very reminiscent to Henry Cow (as I stated above), provoking a nervous feeling, which will later be calmed with a nice transition into a soft mood, the use of wind instruments such as clarinet, along with excellent piano and a precise synth playing, the music becomes totally lovable and in moments hypnotizing, the instrumentation is really good and the pauses they create on purpose complement this extraordinary opener song.

"Orgon Patafisico (parts I and II)", the first part is very short and works as the prelude to the second one, the first, I don't really know, but may have been made just by the synth effects, on maybe they were real percussion instruments. The second part is a longer composition that starts with a spacey mood made by the synth, evoking to some laser rays or a sci-fi movie, along with those effects there are other noises here and there, like a dissonant acoustic guitar sound. This is one of those kind of songs, where you can close your eyes, and let the music transport you to another dimension, awesome.

"Fakma" continues with some spacey sounds, and some weird noises, the soundscapes created are great and the use of some other instruments give this song a dark atmosphere.

"El Fin de los Dodos" is another nervous song, with a dark atmosphere and creating a sound which maintains that spacey mood, but also the RIO avant-gardish theme that shows what this band is capable of.

"Terapia de Fakirato" is a significant change to the music, starting with piano and evoking some contemporary artists such as John Cage, after a minute and a half, the melody changes again into a nervous one, but this time it really is addictive, this is an extraordinary composition that goes from that exquisite piano beginning, to this nervous and addictive moment, the drums are excellent, the use of synth and the effects created give this song a remarkable passage. The structure is the same to the finish but what it is great is the interplay between the instruments and minor changes when a round is finished, excellent song.

The only song that contains some kind of vocals is "Manati", starting with some folkish instruments and spoken word telling a story, the combination of those traditional and folk elements with the synthesizer is delicious. Then the vocals disappear and the noises continue, this is a weird and excellent song.

The album finishes with "El Titosco" which is a short composition that returns to that RIO sound, not the spacey anymore, the chamber rock moments are well placed here in a short but excellent song, a great one to finish this wonderful album.

Overall, an splendid record, one of the best prog album ever released in Mexico (of course, in my opinion) and highly recommendable to anyone who loves the RIO realm. 4 stars.

Enjoy it!

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 In Concert by DECIBEL album cover Live, 2000
3.05 | 3 ratings

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In Concert
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This live album from DECIBEL includes about 40 minutes from a concert in Mexico City back in 2000, as well as close to 30 minutes of music recorded from two different shows in the late seventies. I'm going to review the show from Mexico City in 2000 only because the sound quality for the seventies shows aren't the best.

The concert opens with someone with a really deep voice introducing the band to applause. "Terpia De Fakirato" opens with keys and we get a full sound before a minute. The violin is just screaming and I love the drum work that follows. More violin after that. "El Charco De Los Caimanes Part I" opens with percussion and violin as other sounds come and go. A calm after 1 1/2 minutes. The sound starts to build a minute later. This gets pretty intense. It settles around 5 minutes. "El Charco De Los Caimanes Part II" opens with violins before a beat comes in. Clarinet as well in this one. "Tarot" features percussion and odd sounds. We get a beat after 1 1/2 minutes as clarinet and other sounds continue. Violin 3 minutes in.

"Suite Safari" is the 22 minutes closer. It kicks in fairly quickly and it sounds great as the violin plays over the excellent drumming. It settles as the tempo continues to shift throughout this track. Strange sounds 3 minutes in. Birds are chirping wildly then the song kicks back in around 5 minutes with violin and drums leading the way. A change after 10 1/2 minutes to almost a circus-like atmosphere. The music continue to evolve and weave it's way until we get a calm with spoken words after 18 minutes. It kicks back in for a big finish. I have to mention that the audience was very enthusiastic for this concert and for good reason.

I'd rate this concert 4 stars but the live music that follows doesn't sound good as the band acknowledges in the liner notes. So 3 stars poor sound quality and all. 3.5 stars over all. Well worth picking up though for the first 40 some minutes.

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 Fortuna Virilis by DECIBEL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 5 ratings

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Fortuna Virilis
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 El Poeta Del Ruido by DECIBEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.11 | 14 ratings

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El Poeta Del Ruido
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This has been an absolute pleasure to listen to over this past week or so. I must admit that Rio bands are often hit or miss with me, but when they hit like DECIBEL's debut, it will be played and enjoyed often. DECIBEL are a Chamber / Rock band from Mexico who got started in 1974. What I love about this album is not only the Chamber music but the experimental, dark and spacey songs they've composed. Apparently they really liked to improvise and many of these guys are multi-instrumentalists.

"El Poeta Del Ruido" is the title track and the longest song on here. It opens with funny noises almost like something out of a cartoon before it kicks into gear. The tempo shifts wildly on this one though,so hang on. A good rhythm with clarinet and percussion when it does speed up, while violin is prominant each time it settles. That is until a calm with piano 2 minutes in,this is rather haunting. It kicks in again. This is good. I like the piano / drum section before 5 minutes. It's heavier 7 minutes in. "Orgon Patafisico-Part I" is a short 1 1/2 minute track that sounds like a music box almost. "Orgon Patafisico-Part II" opens with acoustic guitar and spacey synths.Vocal sounds come in as well. It's very avant-garde around 1 1/2 minutes as acoustic guitar, strings, synths and vocal sounds come and go. Experimental to say the least. It sounds like spacey winds late with vocal sounds. Very haunting.

"Fakma" is eerie with piano, synths and percussion. Dark too. What a great soundscape this is. "El Fin De Los Dodos" is dark and spacey with lots of violin and synths. It's really eerie after 2 1/2 minutes. So impressive. "Terapia De Fakirato" is my favourite. Piano to open before it kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes with drums leading the way. Great sound after 2 minutes as synths come in. I could listen to this for an hour. "Manati" opens with a haunting mood as spoken words come in. The vocals stop but it continues to be dark and creepy. Interesting collage of sounds here with marimba, clarinet, flute, percussion and synths. Some vocal expressions late. "El Titosco" is the short closing track which is led by drums, synths, bass, violin and piano. Some vocals sounds late.

Inventive, experimental and perfectly executed. I can't ever see myself getting bored with this amazing disc.

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 El Poeta Del Ruido by DECIBEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.11 | 14 ratings

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El Poeta Del Ruido
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Arguably the king band of Mexico's avant-rock, Decibel stated their radically challenging musical vision from the very first seconds of their very first release "El Poeta del Ruido". All members of the basic quartet formed by drummer Castañeda, violinist Sánchez, bassist Schmidt and keyboardist Robledo double and alternate in several other instruments (reeds, woodwind, synths, percussion, etc.), and are not precisely shy on the use of console and magnetic tape effects in order to enhance and/or focus the massive weirdness encapsulated in their collective ideas. The presence of guests on string and woodwind instruments also helps to make this inscrutable repertoire a bit more colorful than your usual RIO album. Solid and bold, Decibel's RIO offering is evidently open to influences from Henry Cow, Faust (their concrete-friendly side), Univers Zero (their "1313" debut album had already been released), plus the mandatory references to Cage, Stockhausen and the Fluxus movement's Dadaist approach. The namesake opener begins with mocking sounds of birds before the instrumental tour-de- force brings a delicious set of mischievous dissonances and playful tensions based on piano, clarinet and violin over a superhumanly busy rhythm section. This is UZ on speed mixed with Magma on crack! And that climax,... just unbelieveable! While this delirious sonic travel was heavily rooted on instrumental interaction, the next few pieces are decidedly focused on digital manipulation. The two sections of 'Orgon Patasísico' state an atmospheric approach to sonic mystery in a hermetic framework of noise and minimalism. This deconstructive paradigm is continued in 'Fakma' and 'El Fin de los Dodos': the former is a chaotic, creepy exercise on impending doom; the latter states a more cosmic stance, still bearing dark doom in its nuances. 'Terapia de Farikato' starts with a languid piano prelude that occupies the first 80 seconds; then, the full ensemble displays an exquisite musical travel set under a controlled, somber dynamics. 'Manati' returns to the random, ethereal deconstruction of tracks 2-5: its own peculiarity is that it evolves into a series of ethnic ambiences somewhere along the road. In moments like this is when you discover that RIO can also be a refreshing kind of music. 'El Titosco' completes the official repertoire with a brief retake on the band's extroverted side. The CD edition includes an important number of bonus tracks. 'Notas sin Dueño' finds the band exploring zheul terrain quite enthusiastically, while 'Mucilago Binomial' elaborates a fusionesque stance for the band's robust RIO trend. 'Mensaje desde Fomalhault' is a weird soundscape of whirlwinds that eventually lands on a Faust-like madness of piano, percussion and vocal extravaganza, all of them recycled through the heavy use of tap manipulations. 'Fragmento del Poeta del Ruido' is just what the title implies, a new arrangement, less frantic, of one of the motifs inserted in the original 'El Poeta del Ruido'. The diminished speed allows the band to work on the track's potential density more thoroughly: the featured synthesizer adds a mesmeric nuance to the whole ambience. 'Algo!' is pure minimalistic noise, while '¿Acaso Estoy en un Lecho de Rosas?' states a powerful free-form display of drums and synthesizer effects. 'Improvisación en Blanco y Negro' establishes a sort of homage to "In Praise of Learning"-era HC, while 'Falso Jericó' reinstates the sense of radical chaos Decibel-style. Attention all members of the RIO federation: Decibel's "El Poeta del Ruido" is a must.

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 Fortuna Virilis by DECIBEL album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 5 ratings

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Fortuna Virilis
Decibel RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator 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.

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