2019 was a breakout year for Fernando Perdomo. As one of the first-call Los Angeles sessioneers assembled for the music documentary Echo in the Canyon, he’s been seen and heard on screens large and small around the world, backing up modern pop icons like Jakob Dylan, Beck, and Fiona Apple with his bracing guitar work and unmistakable stage presence.
Thankfully, Perdomo (who first surfaced in these precincts as Dave Kerzner’s lead guitarist and production sidekick) still loves his old-school prog rock, as the latest installment in his series of instrumental Out to Sea albums attests. While the original Out to Sea focused on tributes to his musical heroes and OtS 2 served up dazzling miniatures of dizzying rhythmic and sonic variety, Out to Sea 3: The Storm turns out to be that delight of prog fans everywhere — a concept album!
After a theme song that pushes out from acoustic shores into the electric surf, “Wonder” showcases Perdomo’s inexhaustible gift for melody and his slick multi-instrumental chops. These two tracks are majestic cruises over the bounding main, with wave on wave of soaring guitar, shimmering keyboards, and loosely grooving drums, all played by Fernando himself. “Cycles” features more tasty electric soloing over a simple, hypnotic bass lick; then Perdomo’s acoustic guitar gently weeps as “The Storm” hits:
From there on, the music and the implied storyline just keep getting wilder, as Perdomo throws himself into the deep. “The Great Known” swings in 7/4, with a Beatlesque bridge sandwiched in the middle; “Frenzy” dives into exhilarating power riffage; “The Tambourines of Malmo” keep time to asymmetrical surf music, with a Latin American side trip tossed in. The spindly wah-wah funk of “The UFO Club” slams hard into “Doom Is Often Loud” (which, with Morse code riffing, ominous Mellotron pads and a slinky John Bonham groove, totally delivers on its title’s promise), which in turn sets up the skewed chromatic waltz of “The Crab”. Is the story all just a nightmare or a landlubber’s yarn, as the beautiful, mostly acoustic closer “Dawn” implies? No matter what you conclude, the musical voyage Perdomo takes his listeners on here is a worthwhile trip — heady, hearty, heavy and tons of fun.
If you’ve enjoyed the previous Out to Sea albums, you’ll find OtS3: The Storm a worthy successor — indeed, a fitting conclusion to the story so far; if you haven’t heard them, I think it’s the perfect introduction to the series. Either way, Fernando Perdomo’s widescreen compositional vision and instrumental prowess are on full display here, and the results are completely delightful.
Out to Sea 3 is released March 6; downloads and CDs are now available to preorder on Bandcamp.
— Rick Krueger