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Fernando Perdomo – Out to Sea 2 (Album Review)

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If ever there was an artist whose ship you can actually see coming in, it’s Fernando Perdomo. A man of innumerable musical lives, Perdomo came into view in the progressive rock crowd when Dave Kerzner tapped him to be his main co-conspirator on Kerzner’s expansive solo album New World. Since that time and many albums, tours and broken guitar strings later, Perdomo has had an amazing renaissance of his own that sees him releasing several albums each year in addition to producing and working with countless other artists. The pace of his output is truly astonishing, from recording nearly a full album in one day at Abbey Road studios, to surprising everyone on Facebook by announcing, “It’s my birthday and I do what I want. Today I am releasing an unannounced album Fernando Perdomo Has Lost His Voice which is a compilation of new versions of my songs sung by some of my favorite singers.” And he didn’t just overdub a new singer on top of his old songs…he completely re-arranged and re-recorded the songs themselves! Combined with his omni-presence on social media, it’s not certain if Perdomo actually requires sleep in order to exist.

Starting 2019 off with a bang, Perdomo is releasing a sequel – just one year after the debut – of his progressive rock instrumental guitar album Out to Sea. Inspired by the wonderful cover art of Paul Whitehead, and likely his own seafaring adventures on Cruise to the Edge, Perdomo decided that the phrase Out to Sea rightly captured this side of his artistic life. The debut album and its sequel have much in common: focusing on the lead electric guitar as his main voice (often his 1972 Fender Mustang, 1968 Gibson Sg, and a few others), these are fairly short, accessible pieces that see Perdomo playing the vast bulk of the supporting instruments, from keys to bass to drums, all of which he is quite proficient on. In some ways it’s too bad that his excellent Out to Sea live band aren’t featured very much on this recording; he put that band together last spring to play his first Out to Sea album live in concert. But the speed at which Perdomo can create when left to his own devices is breathtaking, not to mention that he and the live band are located on different coasts, so we likely received this album twice as fast as if he had brought the full band in. And as we will see, there are several guests who appear on this album to further broaden the palate of the music offered. One area that Out to Sea 2 differs from the debut is that he has been able to step more fully into his own voice throughout the material. The first Out to Sea saw Perdomo writing several “tributes” to some of his most beloved musical inspirations, which meant that even though they were original songs, they were written in the style of that artist. Out to Sea 2 doesn’t follow that same route, freeing him up to follow the muse wherever it naturally wants to go, even though his influences may still be spilling off the guitar strings.

Appropriately titled for his sophomore instrumental album, “Two” starts off not only as the driving lead track, but as Part One of the Out to Sea 2 Suite”, which comprises the first 3 songs on the album. The ’70’s reign supreme for these explosive, compact pieces, so strap yourself in. Superbad followup song “Superwoofer” gives us the superfly guest Joe Deninzon (Stratospheerius) on violin. Having seen these two play live in concert, there is an undeniable exuberance between them, evidenced here by their racing tandem lines, accentuated by Perdomo’s drum fills in the background. The final part of the suite, “Boing!” starts off with a crashing…well, the title probably describes it best…before guest Jamison Smeltz joins on saxophones. Part Surfer Rock, part Space Age Freakout, Smeltz’ saxes add to the chaos and delight as the relentless rhythm is swallowed by reverb. The eight-minute Suite flies by quickly, thanks to the fast pace set by Perdomo’s insistent bass playing and arrangements. This voyage out to sea has caught some serious gusts of wind, and already new landscapes are appearing on the horizon.

For now, we’re going to delve deeper into the ’70’s on “Theme from ‘Dr. Leisure’” with guests Tom Bones Malone on horns and Eddie Zyne on drums. There is a connection between this song and “The Dream” from his first Out to Sea recording, part of which is due to Zyne playing on both tracks. Perdomo is obviously at home in this retro vibe, perhaps conveyed by the Dr. Leisure reference in the title.

Despite the high octane joy of the first several tracks, some of Perdomo’s best lead playing comes forth in the more dreamy, mellow offerings on Out to Sea 2. “Beautiful” is one such song, where the nuances of the electric guitar’s bended notes and vibrato are emphasized, with a backdrop of flanged rhythm guitar and organ. To top it off, we are treated to the unexpected trumpet playing of Eric Matthews which ‘beautifully’ compliments Perdomo’s lead lines. Add special guest Joe Cass’ tasteful and inspired drum accompaniment and we easily have one of the highlights of the album.

“Out to Sea 2″Album Artwork

“Five Four” is up next as the sixth track with guest Mark Murdock on drums. This melodic piece feels like classic Perdomo, almost a sequel to the song Out to Sea on his previous album. If he has found his own signature sound at this stage, this would be it. “Stairway to the Sea follows with a lovely progression and more of Perdomo’s emotive playing during this well arranged ballad. Like “Beautiful” before it, there just aren’t enough of these gorgeous works of art in the world. Thank goodness we have these slices of heaven in our collection now. “Your Precious Echo” is a perfect follow-up. Drenched in reverb, this exploration’s only drawback is its brief length, as it provides a nice contrast to the other pieces on the album.

“Saturday Night” is alright for fighting with Perdomo’s punchy little ditty that almost seems like it’s meant as a shot of adrenaline before we enter another highlight of the album, “The Angels of Ardent”. Bringing in heavenly harmonics, this poppy lullaby develops flawlessly and shows off the author’s love for a strong melody and song structure. The fact that Perdomo can pull off such a perfect piece without any outside guests demonstrates his impressive multi-instrumental abilities and self-sufficiency. This holds true for next track “Seven Stars” too, a more upbeat piece that was also wisely chosen as a video “single” ahead of the album’s release. Written by Perdomo on keys, and in many ways paying tribute to one of his biggest hero’s Jean-Luc Ponty, the guitar solo builds into a hypnotic frenzy, rooted by a solid groove underneath.

“Arturius” takes a different turn by being solely a synthesizer and drum composition. It still holds much of the same approach as many of the other songs on the album, but the sequenced synth suggests more of a cosmic-sea that we’re floating in, rather than aquatic. Speaking of atmospheres, “The Stratosphere” conjures up a “Sleep Walk” vibe in the stars, floating effortlessly through the solar system as we pass satellites, celestial radio-bursts and perhaps the passing UFO.  We continue our spacey trip with “Flying to Utopia” with guest Derek Cintron’s drums taking a lead position in the composition. Whether this piece is an ode to Perdomo’s love for all things Rundgren or not, it aptly concludes what seems a trilogy of outer-space fantasy pieces on the album.

Piano brings us back down to earth to introduce the closing studio track on the album. “The Victory” is fairly understated given its title, but nicely incorporates more acoustic guitars than we’ve heard for much of the album and closes with a spectacular Perdomo solo.

Two bonus tracks close the album, featuring the Out to Sea Band recorded “Live at The Shack”, though the sound quality is as perfectly clean as the rest of the studio tracks. “Angel” is a gorgeous track with a beautiful melody and soaring Perdomo lead that stands with the best of anything else on the album. “The Architect” closes this album, just as the studio version of the same song opened his original Out to Sea album — a nicely architected bookend. This tribute to Peter Banks is very faithfully rendered by the live band, impressively demonstrating that Perdomo can pull off his studio nuances flawlessly when playing live, and that his skilled band can perfectly bring his vision to the stage.

Fernando Perdomo is a music devotee through and through. It is genuinely thrilling to witness such a passionate musical lover express their own creativity and joy through their talented original work. His love for music is infectious, and to watch or hear his playing is to witness the very essence and source of the muse itself. You can practically see the sparks of creativity exploding from his jacket as he plays, a musical magician who might pull something brilliant out of his hat unexpectedly at any moment. Out to Sea 1 & 2 is just one side of Perdomo, and a fully satisfying side it is. With music advocates this passionate amongst us, we can rest assured that rock ’n roll will never die.

Released By: Cherry Red Records
Release Date: February 15th, 2018
Genre: Progressive Rock

All instruments played by Fernando Perdomo

“Out to Sea 2” track-list:

  1. Two
  2. Super Woofer (Feat. Joe Deninzon)
  3. Boing (feat. Jamison Smeltz)
  4. Theme from “Dr. Leisure” (Feat Tom Bones Malone and Eddie Zyne)
  5. Beautiful (Feat. Eric Matthews and Joe Cass)
  6. Five Four (Feat. Mark Murdock)
  7. Stairway to the Sea
  8. Your Precious Echo
  9. Saturday Night
  10. The Angels of Ardent
  11. Seven Stars
  12. Arturius
  13. The Stratosphere (Feat. Mark Murdock)
  14. Flying to Utopia (Feat. Derek Cintron)
  15. The Victory
  16. Angel (Bonus Track – Feat. the Out to Sea Band Live at The Shack)
  17. The Architect (Tribute to Peter Banks) (Bonus Track – Feat. the Out to Sea Band Live at The Shack)

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8.6 Excellent

Multi-faceted/talented composer and guitarist Fernando Perdomo returns to his progressive rock roots with this instrumental offering. An electric guitar-focused tour de force, which can sit right next to Steve Howe’s solo albums, Perdomo’s lead lines dance on the edge of the cosmos, take more than a few side trips to the ’70s, and ultimately catch a wave and surf back out to sea

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8
  • Production 9.5
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