Luiz Pérez — En el Ombligo de la Luna
((Not on label) no#, 1981/2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, 2013-04-01: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 Jon Davis, 2013-12-10: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."
Related artist(s): Luiz Pérez
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more