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Reviews

Luiz Pérez — En el Ombligo de la Luna
((Not on label) no#, 1981/2013, CD)

En el Ombligo de la Luna Cover art One of the earliest examples of "Prehispanic Fusion," a style combining the pre-colonial music of Mexico with modern electronics and progressive rock, channeling the spirit of ancient cultures. The style later gained broader recognition with Jorge Reyes, Antonio Zepeda and others. En el Ombligo de la Luna is pretty much where it all started. The first track "In Alteptl Tonal" introduces the percussion, ancient wooden flutes and bird-whistles that form the cornerstone of this style, but as the album progresses modern instrumentation is slowly introduced; electric guitars, then synthesizers and bass are in full deployment by the middle of the third track that closed side one of the original LP, along with wordless vocalizing. The side-long title suite features many haunting quiet parts that can thankfully now be heard clearly, utilizing winds, layered percussion, guitars, and synths, building slowly to a climax, followed by a short section of ancient poetry, leading into the spirited midsection where pulsating bass mixes with jagged synth sounds, morphing into a magnificent passage for layered synths. The closing section then reintroduces the percussion and flutes from the opening section. This is most welcome reissue, especially given that most Mexican LP pressings of the 1980s were very noisy, full of clicks and pops and other irregularities. While the limitations of the original analog recording are still audible on a very close listen, all of those horrible pressing issues are now gone; what remains is one of the magical gems of Mexican progressive music sounding better than it ever has before.

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-04-01


I would imagine that when this album was first released back in 1981, people referred to it as "timeless." It starts out with a wooden flute and a wide array of shakers and other percussion, and in the listener's imagination, it's something that could have been recorded 500 years ago if the technology had existed to record it. The second track continues with wooden flute and percussion, though it concentrates more on drums and wooden sounds than on shakers; there's also something that sounds like a conch shell being blown. The credits (as far as my Spanish will get me) merely say that all instruments are of Pre-Columbian origin with the exception of guitar, bass, echo chambers, frequency analyzer, phase shifter, sin-ei (not sure what that is, maybe a synthesizer, since I'd swear I hear one), and gong. The modern instruments start appearing on the third track, but Pérez handles the transition so smoothly that it's not jarring. About five minutes into "Ketzakoatl Yauh Miktlan" he develops a groove reminiscent of Mike Oldfield, which isn't a bad reference point since both are multi-instrumentalists who build up music part by part in the studio. The way Pérez combines these ancient and modern instruments seems perfectly natural, which leads to another "timeless" factor — this is music not rooted in any particular time, which could exist anywhere on the timeline from ancient times into the future. In some ways, En el Ombligo de la Luna is a precursor to some World Music, but I wouldn't push that comparison too far. This recording stands on its own regardless of its innovation at the time of original release, another way in which it is "timeless."

by Jon Davis, Published 2013-12-10


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 40, 2013 releases, 1981 recordings

Related artist(s): Luiz Pérez

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