I must admit my absolute ignorance about peruvian progressive rock. Curiously Carol, a peruvian girl who hates progressive rock, provided me with further information about this band, which achieved a great success in Peru with the first album titled “Avenida Larco”. Compiling information now I know that the band Frágil has released the following albums: “Avenida Larco” (1981), “Serranio” (1990), “Cuento Real” (1993), and “Alunado” (1997); they also have played in cities such as Los Angeles, Nueva York, Ohio, etc.; and the albums are highly priced in New Zealand or Japan.
The band consists of César Bustamante (bass), Andrés Dulude (acoustic guitar and vocals), Jorge Durand (drums), Octavio Castillo (keyboards and flute), and Luis Valderrama (guitars). In this album the band is accompanied by a 29 members orchestra. This album was recorded alive at Muelle Uno in Lima (Peru).
The show begins with “Obertura” (6:16) where we can already notice the refined symphonic style of the band, with a Howe-like guitar that perfectly moves among keyboard arrangements. An instrumental track with lots of variation, plenty of symphonic rock and a great start off. Now it´s time for the most popular band´s hymn “Avenida Larco” (4:09), and it´s related to a highly commercial avenue in Lima where people trade (or traded) with dollars. The song, despite it´s as commercial as the avenue, has some keyboard arrangements simply spectacular. I´ve listened to the two previous original versions (a re-recorded version was included in “Alunado”) and this live version is, by far, the best one. The third song “Mundo raro” (5:18) is a hymn sing-along-song, that keeps me indifferent. Jon Anderson would love this song but I think it´s a little bit weak. Then there are three short songs: “Pastas pepas y otros postres” (3:38), a song with a Yes flavor that has a lot of music within, mainly in the middle section and the ending instrumental development; the bucolic instrumental “Lizy” (3:27) with a beautiful acoustic guitar and nice flute arrangements. This is the first track where we can listen to the orchestra; and “Esto es iluminación” (3:14), another great track with an amazing guitar solo, a great bass and, in general, nice instrumental work by the whole band. The symphonic spirit lives on with “Oda al tulipán” (5:15), again with beautiful guitars and keyboards, and with “El Caimán” (7:03), which has a delicate start with piano, acoustic guitar and flute. The crowd goes wild, sings along and moves Andrés Dulude. The song builds up and in every verse the arrangements are more and more complicated. The end of the song, plenty of changes of rhythm and with a stratospheric sax solo, is the best moment of the whole album. The mainstream sound and 80´s arrangements of “Le dicen rock” (3:40) don´t fit with the rest of the album, and, after the brief and hypnotic intro “El abuelo” (1:48) the band starts with “Animales” (4:20), another simple song very Yes-generator this time. “Caras” (3:54) is a mainstream rock with a great guitar solo. The end of the show brings us the most progressive Frágil with “Fotograma” (4:03) –pay attention to the wonderful instrumental intermezzo- y “Sorpresa del tiempo” (3:52), a wonderful track, unreleased I think, that begins acoustically and it is developed in an amazing way. Very good flute and an ironic lyric about the current musical scene.
Well this has been my first approach to Frágil´s music and I must admit that I am very satisfied with the experience. Classic progressive rock influenced by Yes and italian progressive, great musicians (although non spanish speakers must be accustom to the singer´s accent) and an album that, except for two or three minor song, would deserve the highest rate. It´s curious that the orchestra can be heard only in counted occasions because it is always covered by the band´s electric might. But it doesn´t matter because this Cd is really worth it.