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Fughu: Absence

Taking its name from the Japanese term "fugu" — a dish consisting of meat from a pufferfish, which can be lethally poisonous if prepared incorrectly — this Argentine band describes its sound as a mix of Pink Floyd and Metallica. The Floyd part is right, but substitute Dream Theater for Metallica, add dollops of Saga, and you've got some idea of what you're in for on Absence.

Opening track "Ashes" sets the tone, with dynamic guitars, dense production and a plenty of drama. Vocalist Santiago Bürgi is a member of the most famous theatrical troupe in Argentina, and his expressive singing emerges as a key element of Fughu's music. "Storm" roars with aggressive guitars and Bürgi's cries of desperation, while Marcelo Malmierca's majestic keys dominate "Tilt" — a moody, sweeping seven-and-a-half-minute instrumental that should be the envy of bands far better known than Fughu. Bürgi goes operatic near the end of the title track, but by this time, such excess is expected (if not exactly welcomed). The solo-piano interlude "Snow" introduces "Solitude," the album's gentlest track that borrows heavily from Pain of Salvation.

Absence requires your full listening presence. This is powerful, complex music that rewards with repeat spins.

Track Listing:
1) Ashes
2) Dead End Start
3) Storm
4) Tilt
5) Slow
6) Absence
7) Snow
8) Solitude
9) Sun
10) Red V
11) Get Me (Inside)
12) Pain

Added: October 1st 2009
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Fughu Web Site
Hits: 2476
Language: english

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Fughu: Absence
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-12-26 10:14:56
My Score:

Fughu are proof positive that the influence of the all seeing, all powerful, almighty....alright enough of that...Dream Theater knows no bounds. "Absence" is the debut from this Argentinean five piece that takes the basic sound of Dream Theater circa "Images & Words" and well really does little to it. That's not to say that this is a rip off, however everywhere you turn on this album, the figure of DT looms large. Right from the opener "Ashes" we are left in little doubt who Fughu's favourite band are, however it does have to be said that they do it very well. The vocals of Santiago Burgi are strong and are full of character and his penchant for leaving some wild and high notes ringing in your ears is a actually quite effective. The foursome of Ariel Bellizio on guitar, Marcelo Malmierca on keyboards, bassist Juan Manuel Lopez and drummer Alejandro Lopez are all extremely talented musicians both in terms of actual technical ability and, I'm glad to say the skill of moulding that virtuosity into engaging and entertaining songs.

The album breaks down into a collection of long, epic songs that contain extended instrumental breakouts and short interlocking passages that join the main pieces together. "Slow", "Snow" and "Sun" vary in length from thirty to fifty six seconds, "Slow" is a short burst of melancholic accordion, "Snow" is a plaintive piano and "Sun" is follows suite. They may and in fact do seem inconsequential on their own, however it is the maturity to realise that these short interludes actually give more gravitas to the longer songs that leaves the impression that with some more time Fughu could actually come up with a sound and songs that have more of an individual flair to them. What also adds weight to that thought is the little bursts of Argentina that manage to wheedle their way into the grander scale. The likes of "Red V" has a short flamenco interlude that somehow sits perfectly in all the keyboard histrionics and heavy riffing that carries on round about it. As said the instrumentation is of the highest order, Malmierca taking centre stage with his wonderful keyboard work across the whole album driving the majority of the songs more than any other instrument. However the drumming of Alejandro Lopez does also stand out as one of the more integral factors of the music as his ever shifting beats, rhythms and colours add a surprising dash of maturity to the music.

Whilst the music on "Absence" is of a high calibre throughout the album, the whole disc slowly builds towards the epic and at times frantic closing track "Pain; Craving; Broken; Stop", where Burgi sings in his native tongue as well as English and puts in his most enigmatic performance as his delivery becomes less and less sane as the song continues to grow grander in scale. Running at over ten minutes it is the longest of the songs, but also by far the best with the interplay between the keyboards, guitar and bass being uplifting and tragic at the same time.

As debuts go, "Absence" is not libel to win many awards for originality, however their take on Dream Theater style prog is far more convincing and interesting than the majority of DT clones and as touched on before Fughu could, with enough confidence produce something in the future that has a stronger Argentinean voice and would be all the more interesting for doing so.

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