One look at his online presence and you know this: Fernando Perdomo lives, breathes and loves music. His Facebook feed is chock full of great stuff he’s heard or created (including his vibrant contributions to Dave Kerzner’s work), and the discography on his Bandcamp page offers a musical feast ranging from power pop to abstract experiments.
But as Perdomo writes in the liner notes of his one-man instrumental album Out to Sea, “I discovered the magical sounds of Progressive Rock in 6th grade and became obsessed … This record is a tribute to the sounds that made me the musician and person I am today.” It’s quite a journey, and a stellar tribute indeed.
Opening track “The Architect (Tribute to Peter Banks)” sets Perdomo’s course: a funky vamp, tasty octave licks and harmonized lines, rhythmic breakdowns a la early Yes and chunky, endlessly inventive leads. Wide open vistas loom on the horizon, with one nifty moment leading straight into the next. You can’t tell what’s coming, but soon you just relax and enjoy — because you’re sure it’ll be great.
Speeding on, Perdomo sails the bounding main of the title track via organ washes, odd-time vamps, and searing leads; develops a haunting riff, then plays acoustic/electric musical chairs with it for “De Boerderij (Tribute to Focus)”; lightens the texture with the sitar-spiced “Roses Spread All Over the World”; moves between nasty wah-wah funk, chiming 12-string work and a high-impact bolero for “The Future According to Roye (Tribute to Roye Albrighton and Nektar)”; tosses in a shimmering melody over spacious strumming titled “The Dream”; and rocks hard atop electric harpsichord arpeggios in “Sonja (Tribute to Sonja Kristina and Curved Air).”
But the piece de resistance is the closing “Dreaming in Stereo Suite.” With nary a hint of showing off, Perdomo constructs a 16-minute thing of beauty, building from balletic, swinging keyboard work through full band riffing to bluesy guitar licks over Beatlesque electric piano. Dashing through folk & quasi-classical episodes along the way, the suite climaxes with the embrace of Abbey Road and Layla — and celebrates their union with a cheeky quote from Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies over the final fade-out.
From start to finish, Perdomo’s musical ideas grow naturally out of each other, flowering and unfolding in organic fashion even as he gleefully hopscotches between genres. Sure, Out to Sea is a tribute, right down to the album art by Paul Whitehead (from Genesis’ Nursery Cryme/Foxtrot days) — but it’s not a retread by any means. There’s still plenty of life in the sounds and structures of the classic prog era, and the invention, lyricism and sheer joy Fernando Perdomo brings to this album prove it. Listen to and buy Out to Sea here!
— Rick Krueger