Give Ficción some credit. Formed in 1976, it took the Venezuelan band 25 years to get an album properly issued: 2001's Sobre El Abismo (which consisted of music recorded in the '80s, plus two new tracks). The very next year, the trio recorded eight brand new compositions, again tapping Témpano's Alexis Peña for lead vocals on three songs (the album is primarily instrumental). It's taken a few more years, but Musea has just released Sobre La Cresta De La Ola, which translates to On The Crest Of The Wave.
On The surface, Ficción is another guitarless keyboard-fronted symphonic band, like Supernova with male vocals substituted for female, but where the new material is concerned this is a band to keep an eye on, regardless of the numbers in years or ages. Keyboardist-composer José Ignacio Lares is something of a Venezuelan answer to Jan Hammer down to the smooth scalp and strapped-on Moog Liberation. Lares also produced, recorded and mixed the CD, and indeed it's very keyboard-centric; drummers Gerardo Ubieda and Isaias Paris and especially bassist Andres Clavijo are quite good and mixed too low, while Peña's nonirritating vocals are just right. On the flipside, synthhounds will dig Lares' chops and monophonic lead lines, though he doesn't seem to mind employing glossy digital patches as well as meaty analog sounds. The sampled orchestral strings only figure prominently on "Danza Boreal" and "Rollel" but the dirty sawtooth-enabled business is where it's at, with pitch-bend and modulation wheels fiddled with liberally. The five fusion-tinged instrumentals are much stronger than the songs; Lares' solos are frequent, best exemplified by "Peces," "Regreso A La Autopista" and "Un Nuevo Amanecer." The man can really go off à la
Wakeman and Emerson.
Speaking of Emerson, Lares' primary influence (though the material suggests otherwise) isn't grossly obvious until the closing suite cues up — could the title be more overt? Musically "...Siete Virgenes Y Una Mula" is going to call attention to itself during Quality Control's inspection: the stock organ progression and staccato synth chords are shamelessly Emerson-ic, and not very enticing. One more lickety-split solo does appear around the seven-minute mark. Lares seems more in his element when wearing his HammerWake Cape, so to speak. This is hardly a reason to write Ficción off. The core trio of Lares, Clavijo and Ubieda/Paris can play their collective rears off; scrap the homages, dispense with vocals, and the next recording could be a corker. Hopefully it won't be be four years before Musea publishes the third album — Ficción's been around longer than Cast!
[Fluent in Spanish? A band history on Geocities can be viewed here.]
1. Peces / Fish (4:57)
2. Planeta Porno / Porno Planet (6:56)
3. Regreso A La Autopista / Return To The Freeway (4:20)
4. Solo Y Acompañada / Solo & With Accompaniment (6:40)
5. Danza Boreal / Boreal Dance (3:35)
6. Rollel Y/O El Último Tren De Tu Vida / Rollout And/Or The Last Train Of Your Life (5:32)
7. Un Nuevo Amanecer / A New Dawn (4:46)
8. Suite De Las Siete Virgenes Y Una Mula / Suite For Seven Virgins And A Mule (9:50)
– Parte A. La Mula / The Mule
– Parte B. La Siete Virgenes / The Seven Virgins
Total time – 46:43