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Tracklist: 1. Las Hormigas 3:42 2. Ocho veces para arriba y abajo 3:54 3. La procession de los patos sin cabeza 4:54 4. Si los caballos no piensan porque los eligen presidentes 3:21 5. Piel morena 2:46 6. Anacronia 5:25 7. Blue 7:01 8. Oriente Express 4:45 9. Las montanas de la Luna 3:20 All music written by Jesus Gonzalez, except 7 by The High Fidelity Orchestra. Line-up: Jesus Gonzalez - electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizers & piano, percussion Rene Romero - semi-acoustic guitar Raymundo Barajas - drums & marimba Gilberto Gonzalez - bass Guest musicians: Alex Elsenring - keyboards on 2, 3, 5, & 6 guitar on 5 & 6 Miguel Samperio - sax on 7 Cuauhtemoc Novelo (of Nazca) - congas on 5 Ernesto Ramirez - marimba on 8 Produced by Jesus Gonzalez. Recorded & mixed by Billy Freyre & David Marchand at "Ary" & "Foro Isabelino" studios in Mexico. Re-mastered by Jesus Gonzalez at "FOH" studio in 2000.
Prologue. Early in the 1980s, The High Fidelity Orchestra (THFO hereafter) and Nazca shared a friendship that remains even to this day. However, unlike the creation of Nazca, which was marked by a joint authorship, Jesus Gonzales was the sole leader of THFO. Also, it was the same Jesus Gonzalez who has remastered THFO and all of Nazca's original albums for reissue on CD last year.
The Album. I was shocked after I listened to the first two tracks on this album. More than three fourths of the opening track Las Hormigas represents a rather monotonous imitation of the arrangements that were typical for the second incarnation of King Crimson in the beginning of the 1980s. All of the guitar parts are not unlike those that Robert Fripp invented in the process of creating of his first solo album "Exposure" (1979) and developed on Crimson's "Discipline" & "Beat". The second track, Ocho veces para arriba y abajo, is also a monotonous imitation of one of the tracks (don't remember its title, sorry) from "The Dark Side of the Moon" album by Pink Floyd. This time, THFO go a road of the stolen notes almost completely. However, I've noticed the bits of original ideas on both of these tracks and wondered why THFO demonstrate their high fidelity to follow (or borrow, to be precise) the ideas of their idols, instead of using of their own. To my surprise, it turned out to be that almost all of the remaining pieces of the band's debut album are not only free from any of the possible influences, but are also very original. I can't, however, say everything is all right about each of the seven of the remaining tracks and the band's stylistics as a whole. First off, it's obvious that on their debut LP (which, unfortunately, remained their only album), THFO were just in search of their 'final' style. Not only their best compositions (tracks 3 to 7), but even both of the album's last pieces, representing nothing else but Neo, are, musically, highly different among themselves. Let me put the final touches to the weak aspects of the album so as to dedicate the second part of the review only to the positive ones. Oriente Express (track 8) is a beautiful and melodious instrumental based either on Japanese or Chinese music. However, it contains too few of the different themes that, in addition, just interchange with each other on a tempo, which is the same from the first to the last note. The last track on the album, Las montanas de la Luna, is also an original and melodious piece. The only major drawback here is that all of the arrangements go to the accompaniment of the rubber-like sounds uttered by one of the first drum machines. All of the five remaining compositions are full of innovative ideas and complex arrangements as well. Musically, they can be (more than easily) divided into three parts. Then La procession de los patos sin cabeza & Si los caballos no piensan porque los eligen presidentes (tracks 3 & 4) will form the first part. Both of them are filled with a few of the different musical spaces-dimensions and most of them, in addition, are very changeable within themselves. Both of them are filled with very eclectic and unpredictable, yet, truly innovative and unique arrangements, that, upon first listen, can remind one of some abstract algebra written by using musical notes. Fast and mid-tempo solos (always different) by each of the band's musicians cross each other by inconceivable parabolas to the accompaniment of mostly slow, yet highly diverse parts of the drums. If briefly, a very eclectic blend of (heavy) Space Rock and kind of Symphonic Psychedelic Rock would be the more or less proper definition of a unique stylistics of those two compositions. The second part will contain Piel morena & Anacronia (tracks 5 & 6). Musically, both of them represent a blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Space Rock with a few of those psychedelic episodes that are the hallmarks of both of the previous tracks. With respect to all of the other compositions, Blue (track 7) has a very 'independent' musical status. Almost entirely, it consists of structures that are typical for Classic Jazz-Fusion. (Though, the bits of the band's firm abstractly psychedelic sound are presented here as well.) Brilliant improvised solos and interplay between the piano, saxophone, and electric guitar, here with frequent changes of tone and mood, are just outstanding.
Summary. Despite the fact that there are a couple of real freaks of music on "THFO", those five compositions, that I've just depicted, are so unique and interesting that they make this album really worthy of getting. Also, while both of the album's last tracks are of a high degree of accessibility (in comparison with the best tracks), they are at least original, and Oriente Express, in addition, is just filled with musical charm and beauty. It is a pity that, having a very promising debut album, The High Fidelity Orchestra could not continue their musical career.
VM. January 16, 2002
To read the detailed Overall View on all of the three Nazca albums click here.
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