FERMÁTA — Huascaran (review)

FERMÁTA — Huascaran album cover Album · 1977 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Sean Trane
This third album is a concept album, based on the Peruvian 1970 earthquake that killed some 80,000 lives and had its epicenter near Huascaran. How futile the coincidence that I review this album three weeks after the next biggest earthquake took place in Chincha. It is indeed with much emotions that I have listened to this album in the last month, thinking of our fine collaborators Ivàn, Cesar, Chus and whomever else I might forget, let alone all of the victims that suffered from this most recent event. So in their honor and with much humility, I'd like to dedicate this review to our Peruvian friends who are probably facing a few hardships, but are alive and well (as are their families), which before the Ming vase (Eeeehmmmm!!!. ;o))) and their Cd collection is the most important! The group undergoes a big line-up change as original bassist Jaro is replaced Lucenic, while the drum stool revolves for the last time in a while with Karol Olah sitting on a big wad of glue (Eeeehmmm!!!.. ;o))) to retain it. Griglak also plunges into keyboards on this album, but it doesn't tip the scale against his guitar, since it is one of his strongest works. Karol's brother Peter will belt out a few vocal lines and they added a cello guest musician (the violinist of their previous album was virtually unnoticeable). With their poorest artwork of their discography (but giving a good idea of their western equipment), Huascaran would've deserved a more evocative artwork because of the thematic subject, at the risk of being a bit graphic.

While the lead-off first part of the title track is rather slow evolver, the track picks up intensity by the tenth minute and a few dozens of second later, a short drum solo roll describe the earthquake and the 40-minutes landslide/avalanche that resulted in the high victim toll. The next track is a solemn homage to the 80,000 victims, and this track cannot leave me without chills down my back and send goose-bumps over the rest of my body. This music is simply awesome and somehow a fantastic gift from people suffering a different kind of hardship, caught behind an iron curtain. Griglak's guitar lines in this track are soaring above Pachacamac and the Inca roots of the country.

The flipside is a good musical evocation of the international help teams and solidarity amongst men in adversity, the shorter track of the album, but hardly lesser because of it. The second part of the title track brings us back to the dramatic end of the opening movement, but it seems that the idea was to improvise a bit on the ideas developed previously. The tracks is a slow decrease of intensity and ends on birdsongs and slow bass drum hearbeat.

The Cd reissue comes with three absolutely fantastic bonus tracks, which adds even more value per money. 15 is a hard driving funk/fusion track that resembles a bit the then-recent Weather Report releases with Latin rhythms. Valparaiso (named after the Chilean seaport) is more of a Mahavishnu Orchestra and is shines like a thousand sun and is hotter than lava flowing from its crater. The short Pertpetuum I would obviously be a leftover from their debut album, but strangely enough features some heavy brass arrangements, which hints it wouldn't be the case after all.

A splendid album and Fermáta's best album (even with the bonuses) and some of the most stunning symphonic/progressive jazz- rock ever. This could easily rate with the best of UK or US jazz-rock fusion and it's a shame that Fermáta was one more victim of the Cold War, because it deserved much more. Run for this one!!

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