Battle of the Band: Fernando Perdomo

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Normally with Battle of the Band we feature two releases by the same artist but this time out we feature three releases from prog guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo. Two of his solo albums battle it out with a collaborative release with Sandy McKnight.

Fernando Perdomo - Out to Sea 3 - The Storm
This one concludes the Out to Sea trilogy that Perdomo has been working on for the past several years. Stating that he felt this album needed to be a "concise statement from one rather crazy musician," Perdomo plays all the instruments except for occasional percussion parts. The effort is all instrumental, so listeners can take the voyage any way they want to, out to sea or otherwise. Remember the album is subtitled The Storm, but the effort opens with the sublime "Out to Sea 3 Theme" which leads into the mellow buzz of "Wonder" and the first guitar-heavy piece of the record, the jazzy "Cycles." These pieces are the proverbial calm before "The Storm" but don't expect much of a ruckus here; in fact Perdomo uses acoustic guitar as the lead instrument in the understated groove. After the storm Perdomo lands in "The Great Unknown" where the order of the day is jazz fusion and "Frenzy" lives up to its title as Fernando goes nuts on both guitar and drums. "The U.F.O. Club" is a late album highlight as Perdomo introduces some funk to the mix and "Doom is Often Loud" has some Stooges hiding in the prog. Another totally mellow cut wraps up the trip; the trilogy ends, ironically, with the new beginning of "Dawn."

Fernando Perdomo - The Crimson Guitar: A Tribute to King Crimson
38-years-old when he recorded this tribute to King Crimson, Perdomo actually crafted the (re) arrangements of these songs when he was around 12-years-old and first enamored with the band and guitarist Robert Fripp in particular, and first learning to play guitar. An all acoustic and instrumental set, The Crimson Guitar presents King Crimson as rarely heard. The stripped-down versions that Perdomo offers here come from the band's early material, including takes on "Peace (A Theme)" from the Poseidon album, "Islands" and "Formentera Lady" from Islands, "Starless" from Red and an abbreviated version of "Prince Rupert Awakes" from Lizard. The beloved King Crimson album Court of the Crimson King is represented with two pieces, the title cut and "Moonchild." Perdomo even reaches back to pre-Crimson days for an interpretation of the Giles, Giles and Fripp song "Erudite Eyes." Whether you know the original versions of these King Crimson songs or not, there is vast beauty to experience here in Perdomo's playing.

Sandy McKnight with Fernando Perdomo - San Fernando Beat
This one differs from Perdomo's solo records in that it has vocals. Perdomo plays guitar, drums and keyboards while McKnight sings and plays acoustic guitar, bass and keyboards. Also the music is not prog; McKnight wrote all the songs including the Elvis Costello-recalling "Facing the End of the World" and "Single Flowers," the jangle pop of "Chloe's Gone" and the psych-tinged "Heart in Your Hands." At six songs and approximately 19-minutes San Fernando Beat falls somewhere between an LP and an EP. Peppy rocker "Any Time of Day" may be the effort's highlight, especially if that determination is made based on hit single potential. The record ends with "Fake," another Costello-like song. While Perdomo is all over every cut, McKnight is clearly in charge here on this nice set of pop tunes.

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