Monday, April 2, 2007

DECIBEL- Contranatura,LP,1978,Mexico

Very odd, low-fi, RIO-influenced quartet from Mexico. Their first, and only, record covers a very wide musical field. [This is regarding El Poeta Del Ruido - Ed.] This is due, in part, to the fact that each of the players are multi-instrumentalists. About half of El Poeta... is highly-structured, keyboard-dominated instrumental music which reminds me more of RIO- and/or Canterbury-influenced bands like Dedalus, Hellebore and Picchio del Pozzo than, say, Soft Machine or Henry Cow. The rest is very spacey, improvised (?), free-form music dominated by voice, keyboards and hand-percussion, which would have made a stunning movie soundtrack. I really enjoy this record. Although it sounds a bit dated, it has a lot of charm. Violinist/clarinetist/keyboardist Alejandro Sanchez later formed an equally wonderful, Univers Zero-inspired band called Nazca. -- Dave Wayne Of Fortuna Virilis: Wow! Again an album which manages to make RIO musicians sound like real rockers. In year 2000 Decibel celebrated 25 years of existence, although Fortuna Virilis is their first after long hiatus starting after the release of El Poeta del Rudio, and is definitely a feather in their cap. Although put on CD not so long ago, Contranatura and Mensaje Desde Fomalhault were released, but they're not proper albums. Listening to Fortuna, both proved to be thin end of the wedges. Fortuna is somewhat similar to Shub Niggurath's C'Etaient, but it grows in wider environment of musical bases than avantzeuhl monsterpiece. With this album Decibel successfully strayed from prime topic of Mexican RIO-inspired bands. Music of Fortuna is genuine not only because band managed to overcome its dependency on Univers Zero, but also due to the fact that they decided to explore Sound and its possibilities. Usual song structure is here quite unimportant. Much care is put on vibrato of particular instruments or processed sounds in distinct improvisational environment. Imagine how bass clarinet is stalking around, how something one could mistake for a melody looms in the distance, imagine synthesizers which often threat with jarring and charnel chords, but rarely do so. After a listen, uninitiated would probably retain no distinct impression save multitude of sounds arranged in otherworldly chaos, and indeed I can often imagine like I'm hovering above one of Jupiterian moons, say, Ganymede or Callisto, or above Neptune and Uranus when winds start to blow ;).
Yet the first song "El Club de los Incomparables" announces what one can expect. Spasmodic, spectral vortex of squealing and squeaking (in unnaturally high pitch) bassoon sonorities (Juan Carlos Ruiz, once a Decibel-member, guests on this track), violent Chopinic scherzoid pianisms, nervous violin screeching, deviously appeasing percussions and so on. The question rises: What is free? The second track, entitled "La Charamusca", is even more unusual. Here bass clarinet vibrato is merging, or better said putting together with whining samples (loops), processed synthesizer sounds and rum percussions which "smell" very old and are probably taken from Mayan or Aztec source. Album continues in similar manner of different instrumental combinations. For example in the next track, "Kame Hame Hop", xylophone and bass enter the first plan. I think there's also soprano sax. "Zeliscar y Zetulba" sounds almost like Godflesh in their best times, what bespeaks of Decibel's affinity for industrial rock. Of course, hypnosis can not be achieved with rhythms, which are completely decomposed. Album culminates with 10+ minutes long "Del Asesinato Considerado", which is sort of a descent into Tartaros. Synths are amazing and I think that violinist here plays his "violectra baritono", whatever type of viola that is. The closing number bears no title but it is one of those CD-player-teasers which start with a minute to ten minutes of silence and last for half that time maximally. This one starts with 49" of silence and last for a minute, but, interesting enough, includes a melody ;).
Overall, smaller portions of Univers Zero feel are still present, although, while not so sinister, Fortuna isn't that innocent, either. I've read of comparisons with 60's improv band AMM, but as I didn't check 'em out yet, can't say anything more. Despite its difficulties, mysteriousness and abounding pecularities, Fortuna often provides me with a joyful, pleasantly eerie listening. Awestruck (by music and beautiful, aesthetic booklet cover), I'm lying in wait for further marvellous recordings to occur from Decibel camp. Incredible!!! -- Nenad Kobal
From New Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock

get it here


John said...

Wow, that cover image really freaks me out!

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog. Always something interesting here! Do you have Mannaminne by Hasse Bruniusson? I have been looking for it for years.
Keep up the good work.

Carlos said...

gracias compadre!

Grk! said...

I do like the frikenin' faces on Decibel's record covers. Thanks for this one.

Anonymous said...

Sure am glad I finally listened to this. It's like no other.

METEK said...

link doesn´t work ..