The Crimson Guitar : A Tribute To King Crimson
(2019 - Forward Motion Records -USA)
Anticipation was filled with a mix of nervous and curious feelings when I received this album for review. Growing up in the 60's and being exposed to King Crimson a decade earlier than Fernando, I wondered what his take would be. Also, anyone attempting covers of possibly the greatest progressive/inventive band for going on six decades is always a gamble. Then add the fact of no vocals, only an acoustic guitar on which he notes he created the basic arrangements of these covers in his teenage years, after taking classical guitar lessons. No other musicians, no other instruments; oh the anxiety of the hardcore Crimson fans. But rest your worries, this is refreshing, elegant, altogether beautifully crafted, and presented like a mouth watering meal served on an antique diner table laid on a fine silk table cloth. And is it ever tasty. A short 25:35 minutes over 10 songs, it actually plays as the perfect time as you will see.
Much of the material he picked is from early recordings (In The Court of the Crimson King, Lizard, Islands, In The Wake Of Poseidon). He does do 'Starless' (Red), 'Book Of Saturday' (Larks' Tongues In Aspic), and 'Erudite Eyes' (the earliest tune he covers off The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles And Fripp), so the acoustic guitar is suited for these far and away more so than if he chose anything from the aggressive mental infused metal or intricate tortuous rock from Crimson. I found myself grooving along deeply on 'Islands', 'I Talk To The Wind', and 'Formentera Lady'. Perfectly arranged and played. Even 'Starless' has a very dedicated feel. I could almost hear John Wetton singing along as the tempo setting is superb. The delicate performance of these songs touches all emotions.
Once I got through the first five songs, I knew I could relax and just enjoy. Perdomo had this. In fact it is like listening to a great classical guitarist from the olden days play these cuts. Precisely how it was intended I think. I suspect you could hear a pin drop if he were to perform this entire album on stage in a concert hall in Europe. To know Fernando Perdomo's musical history will put most music lovers at ease, since he has previously done music inspired by progressive artists such as Steve Howe (Yes), Steve Hackett (Genesis) and that statue of musician (check out 'Out To Sea' - volumes 1 & 2) . He is also the bassist for Dave Kerzner, and appeared on several other releases throughout his career so far. At a young 38, he still has plenty to offer.
One overwhelming favorite by fans is 'Moonchild' and this will not disappoint. It carries the same delicate ambience. Then comes the all time epic monster Crimson fans fall to their knees for 'The Court Of The Crimson King' as the final selection. How would Perdomo pull this one off with acoustic guitar only? He certainly does all that comes before without a glitch. With trepidation my ears took it all in and my heart rested easy, yet my soul floated above my head as the chorus came and those thick nylon strings made rich chords occur, and WOW!!! What a way to end, and what a really special album of observation by this fine musician and producer who keeps making outstanding music, from so many genres and influences of his life. It is clear this was done with love. I am sure Fripp thinks fondly of this release. VERY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 2 - 8 - 2020