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Flor De Loto - 2015 - "Medusa: En Vivo en Buenos Aires"

(182:34 CD+DVD, Azafran Media / Musea Records)


*****+

Prolusion. The Peruvian band FLOR DE LOTO has been an active and vital part of the progressive rock scene in Peru for a good number of years, and since they started to release their music on CD just over ten years ago, a new production by the band has hit the shelves just about every other year. "Medusa", their first live production ever, was jointly released by Azafran Records and Musea Records in the fall of 2015.

CD (70:34): *****+

TRACKLIST:

1.  La Fortaleza 3:42
2.  Nuevo Mesias 4:28
3.  Mosoj Pacha / Nuevo Mundo 5:07
4.  Sombras en la Oscuridad 3:29
5.  Espejo Del Alma 5:29
6.  En Otro Lugar 6:38
7.  Volver a Nacer 5:32
8.  Hipnotizame 7:06
9.  Desapareciendo 5:07
10. Medusa 7:17
11. Imperio De Cristal 6:16
12. Hasta el Final 10:43

LINEUP:

Ignacio Flores  guitars; vocals
Alonso Herrera  vocals; guitars
Junior Pacora  flute; quena, charango; vocals
David Lopez Gutierrez  synthesizer 
Agustina Gonzalez  vocals 
Alvaro Escobar  drums 
Alejandro Jarrin  bass 
Analysis. Live albums can be strange productions. Just about any artist of note needs to release a live album at some point, as there's an expectation from the outside for any serious band to have at least one such item in their catalog, as well as from their most ardent fans. At the same time, a few rare exceptions aside, they just don't sell as much as studio albums. So from a commercial point of view, many bands could and probably should refrain from releasing such productions, at least until or unless they know for sure that there's a buying audience, able and willing to spend money on such a production. With the digital age and a steadily cheaper production cost for DVDs, many have opted to make such productions more marketable by releasing live albums with an accompanying DVD. Flor De Loto has opted to release such a double feature, and at least from a commercial point of view, this should be a wise choice, as the addition of a live DVD should expand the size of the purchasing audience. As for the live CD in this double package, it is one that comes across as, first and foremost, of interest to existing fans of the outfit. It is a fine live album on many levels, but it does come with some detrimental aspects as well, of the kind that will limit interest beyond the existing fan base, but that, presumably, existing fans won't be as much concerned with. Flor De Loto appears to have honed in on a specific approach to their take on progressive rock, as the sound and style are fairly uniform throughout this concert. Most songs feature at least one gentler passage of some kind or other, where dampened or gentle guitars support a flowing flute solo, where plucked guitars explore a folk music-inspired motif, or where flute and guitar combine in either a South American folk music-based theme or one with a foundation closer to Jethro Tull. These gentler passages are then to a lesser or greater degree combined with harder-edged, driving runs with more of a basis in hard rock, and a typical aspect of this is the flowing Jethro Tull- style flute solo run, applied on top of a distinct and dominant riff foundation. A peculiar, but intriguing, clash of styles also appears here and there, where bassist Jarrin in particular doesn't shy away from providing galloping bass motifs fans of Iron Maiden will find familiar sounding, and when this is given a further emphasis by one of the guitarists as well, and you have a vintage organ or keyboard motif further expanding the range and depth of the theme; the end result is rather charming, in a peculiar kind of way. Flor De Loto is a tight live band, and that is the saving grace of this album, as I experience it. Drive, momentum and energy aplenty breathe life into this live experience, and for someone familiar with their material from previous occasions this does manage to overcome some minor, but definite, weak moments: The rather closed in sound on the initial tracks, a lead vocalist arguably not quite at the same level on stage as in a studio environment, and a mix that, at least initially, appears as slightly unbalanced. Aspects that probably be detrimental for someone new to the band, but where those who know the material from the studio productions will have a greater tendency to not take notice of them. In my mind, this also may well be that the band has chosen to replicate the live concert as it actually was, rather than to tinker with the recordings to make them come across as better than it was when this concert took place. For fans in general and those attending the concert in particular that should count as a positive aspect of this live album, authenticity then being a key word.

DVD (112:00): *****

TRACKLIST:

1.  La Fortaleza 3:42
2.  Nuevo Mesias 4:29
3.  Mosoj Pacha / Nuevo Mundo 5:07
4.  Sombras en la Oscuridad 3:29
5.  Espejo Del Alma 5:29
6.  En Otro Lugar 6:38
7.  Volver a Nacer 5:33
8.  Hipnotizame 7:06
9.  Desapareciendo 5:07
10. Medusa 7:17
11. Imperio De Cristal 6:16
12. Hasta el Final 10:43
Bonus material:
1.  Espejo Del Alma (Video Clip)
2.  En Otro Lugar (Video Clip)
3.  Rumbo a la Eternidad (Live in Lima)
4.  Nuevo Mesias (Live at Contrafest)
5.  Espejo Del Alma (Live 2015)
6.  Flor De Loto (Live 2015)
Analysis. The live DVD follows similar lines. Two or possibly three cameras have been used to capture footage, of the decent quality expected when modern day video recorders have been used. The color balance is not at the level you get when major artists record live shows, and the sharpness of the images also indicates that the budget for this production isn't at a major artist level. The footage has been well edited, however, so the concert experience as such is a good one, due to a quality editing job with fluent motions between individual member shots and full-band shots, and again it is evident that we're seeing a seasoned live band in action. That quality is one shared between the audio and video footage really, where the strength of the performance itself manages to elevate the total experience to something better than the sum of the individual parts, if you like. The additional bonus material included is a bit more of a so-so experience: presumably, mainly of interest to ardent fans. Two promo clips, the first an effects treated affair that isn't all that alluring, and a second of the kind revolving around the band performing a song, one montage of effects treated live footage with a song running underneath, two songs recorded live on stage on other occasions and at last a recording of another live performance inserted with brief off stage video clips.

Conclusion. The main charm of this live CD and DVD package is to see and hear a tight, seasoned live band in action, where what appears to have been a really good performance has been captured more or less exactly as it was. If it is a case of me as a listener getting used to the sound as this concert unfolds or whether it's an actual case of the sound and mix getting improved as the concert unfolds, I don't truly know, but the impression I'm left with is that the sound and balancing is a bit off at the start, and then improves in quality along the way, which may well be something of a detrimental feature for those not familiar with this band from previous occasions. Due to that I'd first and foremost recommend this production mainly to those already familiar with the band. Those with a fascination for live productions that strive to be as authentic as possible might also want to check this one out, as the impression I have is that this concert has been captured pretty much exactly how it was, without all that much tinkering done to the audio afterwards.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 3 & 4, 2016
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Azafran Media
Musea Records
Flor De Loto


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