Cherry Red Records [Release date: 04.05.18]
There are not that many rock guitar players who can really carry off an instrumental album.
Once you get beyond Satriani, Jeff Beck, Vai and Malmsteen the list tails off and, in the field of progressive rock, once you get past John Petrucci and Anthony Phillips the list tails off even quicker.
So, into this musical vacuum steps Fernando Perdano, fretmeister-in-chief of the Dave Kerzner Band, with a big push from Cherry Red Records and the bonus of an excellent cover by the legendary Paul Whitehead (think Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot…).
And he’s a very good guitar player…
Only problem is that most of this, his debut album, is intensely derivative, being, in the most part, a series of tributes to other bands and artists in the progressive rock genre.
Furthermore, most of these tributes sound exactly like the bands he’s tributing but with the vocal parts faded out. Surely this was the whole point of these bands and their vocalists?
As a result what you end up listening to, quite often, is music you would hear whilst waiting to be connected on the phone.
And all this is such a shame as, like I said, the guy can really play.
When he breaks free of the self-imposed shackles of trying to sound like someone else and lets rip with his own style, the album comes alive.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the sixteen minutes plus of ‘Dreaming In Stereo Suite’ – fretsmithery of the highest order overlaid on top of pumping, progressive keys – ah but that the whole album followed this template…
As it is, the quality swings wildly between the very good; ‘Out To Sea’ and the aforementioned ‘Dreaming In Stereo’, to the pastiche of the tributes - ‘The Architect’ (to Peter Banks – not Yes’ finest period), ‘The Future According To Roye (to Roye Albrighton and Nektar – never on anyone’s radar as a top band) and ‘Sonja’ (to Sonja Kristina – sounding, predictably, like an amalgam of ‘Vivaldi’, Back Street Luv’ and ‘It Happened Today’ – but without Sonja).
It works better on ‘De Boerderrij’ – a Focus tribute, but then Focus were largely instrumental anyway, and on bonus track ‘Starless’, a tribute to the late John Wetton, where it would have been very easy to mangle one of the greatest guitar figures ever but he pulls it off OK.
If Mr Perdano can step out of the giant shadows cast by the Gods of yore and give free rein to his own undeniable talents, I can see a great album further down the line.
As things stand, this isn’t it. **1/2
Review by Alan Jones
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