Stunning! This was my initial perception just during the opening tracks (which run together as one), "Parabus/[2.1]Intro." Yes, you will imagine Tony Levin performing on his Chapman Stick, you will imagine Bill Bruford lighting up an incendiary groove on his electronic drums, and you will applaud Ramses Luna's cool-as-heck extended intro on didgeridoo — not to mention his aggressive sax playing. That's only the beginning. Cabezas De Cera — CdC, for short — are the template for the new power trio, and this threesome sounds more like a quintet. Stickist Mauricio Sotelo also plays acoustic & electric guitars, and the vihuela, an acoustic guitar first introduced in Renaissance-era Spain. The vihuela has a sound closer to a lute, and a bowed belly for augmented resonance; Sotelo obviously plays the modern version used by mariachis, which has only five strings, strung a-d-g-b-e. In addition to didgeridoo and sax, Luna also slices to the fore of the mix on flute, clarinet, MIDI wind controller, and he adds a few vocals on the album. Still, CdC's strength is as an instrumental juggernaut. Rounding out the trio on drums and percussion is Mauricio's brother, Francisco. Cabezas de Cera may very well be the best progressive outfit to emerge from Mexico — their brand of progfusion is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
"Cósmica" opens with a bang, Mauricio Sotelo doing his best Levin-Stick impression right out of Beat or Three Of A Perfect Pair; that and "In Statu" emphasize Luna's expressly indigenous-sounding flute leads, while "En Camino" (on the road) unveils Mauricio's vihuela and more sax. All the while, Francisco Sotelo's drumming is not unnoticed, as he plays on and around the beat, drumming furiously and understatedly, to accent, complement, even lead. "Elementos" drips with exquisite acoustic work topped with frenetic soloing on sax and MIDI controller — the latter is just superb! Mauricio counters with searing electric work on "Escapista." Spatial & Middle Eastern textures mark, respectively, "Balun Canan" and "Mil Noches," courtesy of Stick and plenty more MIDI wind controller parts. With so many layers, such resident complexity, multiple listens will be required to properly enjoy the majority of the tracks—each one separated by a short interstitial segment, a gimmick which seems to be gaining popularity.
Sounding like a world music-transmogrified ProjeKct, Cabezas De Cera offer one of the best trio albums of recent memory. The innate beauty and tumultous energies uncovered within …un segundo are likely to appeal and appease most enthusiasts of RIO, progressive rock, world music, and avant-jazz; it's hard to imagine someone being unmoved by this work. If only I'd known of this album last year, so that it could have made my Top 10 of 2002 list…room always for revisions. Highest recommendation.