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Dreaming In Stereo

Forward Motion Records, 2011

http://www.myspace.com/dreaminginstereo

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/03/2011

There are a lot of different reasons discs get rescued from the teetering stack that arrives every week at Daily Vault World Headquarters.  In this particular case, it was a single name: Fernando Perdomo, the lead guitarist and co-producer on one of my favorite indie albums of the past decade, 2004’s Nothing Is Cohesive from Miami musical collective Transcendence. 

Say this right off the bat: Perdomo is one interesting dude.  Nothing Is Cohesive found Perdomo and musical compatriot Ed Hale constructing an album densely packed with inspired oddness, twisted tunes that pressed the entire library of Brit-rock from the Stones to Oasis through the multi-colored panes of a David Bowie/Todd Rundgren kaleidoscope until it felt like a particularly strange and vibrant dream.

And this, too: Perdomo is a hell of a guitar player.  The guitars on NIC were superb, offering tremendous variety in tone from track to track, yet always with the right sound for the right song and great feel to his virtuosic playing.  Dreaming In Stereo is in somewhat the same vein, a dynamic musical collective that absorbs and recasts a variety of classic rock influences, but one that places Perdomo’s playing, vocals and musical vision front and center.  Perdomo handles most lead vocals, all guitars, and some keyboards, joined by Marisol Garcia (piano, keys, background vocals, lead vocals on two tracks), Dave Torre (viola), Vincent Cuevas (bass) and Eddie Zyne (drums).

Perdomo’s eclectic and undeniably dreamy musical sensibilities, with harmonic support from Torre’s viola and Garcia’s background vocals, inhabit a genre that’s one of the most underutilized in rock:  progressive pop.  That is, three- or four-minute songs that observe the you-don’t-hear-that-every-day formula of intro-verse-chorus-extended dreamy symphonic jam that may or may not lead you back to another chorus somewhere down the line.  (And get used to the adjective “dreamy” – this band was named with a purpose, and more than lives up to its mission statement.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Fill My Sky” kicks things off with airy vocals, a laid-back beat and beautifully strummed riffs, until two and a half minutes in it veers off into a rich, keening, psychedelic solo that plays the song out to its 3:15 finish.  “The Traveler” hews closer to the pop genre with its “whoa-oh-oh” choruses, yet Torre and Garcia’s harmonic accents and the relaxed rhythm section keep things smooth and loose. “Enough’s Enough” (which Perdomo says he wrote after attending an Enuff Z’nuff concert) is another magical ride, stretched out and woozy with a nice chorus, lush harmony vocals, Torre’s strings adding flavor and texture, and another fatty guitar solo from 2:45 to 3:15.

Torre is featured again on “Lullaby,” dueting with Perdomo’s acoustic on a tune that also spotlights the latter’s comfortable, lived-in voice, a suitable match for his rather world-weary and undeniably dreamy lyrics.  It’s also notable that “Lullaby” flows nearly right into “Gonna Sleep Until Tomorrow”; anyone sensing a theme here? The latter has a nice evolution, opening with a simple, repeating lyric “Gonna sleep until tomorrow / so don’t wake me up” that gradually finds its way to a single verse before working into an extended slow-motion jam that builds and builds until it swirls into oblivion on the wings of Torre’s strings.

And then “Goodwill” opens with delicately picked electric chords and the viola coming in behind, feeling like waking up slowly on a slumber-y morning.  Perhaps the loveliest part is that they never interrupt the duet with words; it’s an instrumental all the way.  The first minute of “Open The Door” extends the vibe, sounding like the Beach Boys on Quaaludes, gentle piano with triple-tracked vocals repeating “I’m right outside your door” over and over until the Pink Floyd guitar solo kicks in.  It’s hypnotic, pretty and odd all at once.

“Without You” switches gears, featuring Garcia on lead vocals on a plaintive, languid breakup song with Perdomo on acoustic. “Standing Still” is a rather stately full-bodied tune with focus on the acoustic rhythm guitars and the strings, the electrics hiding down in the mix and only asserting themselves during the mostly string-driven climax. “Saturday Song,” Garcia’s other lead vocal, features her big choruses leading Torre’s strings into a keening electric guitar solo, undeniably symphonic rock in the Moody Blues vein.

Closer “Summer Is Gone” is the perfect denouement, finishing this sunny, dreamy album off with gently ringing guitars, an echoey, airy melody, and a steady chant of “summer is gone” over the top.  It’s a little melancholy, very pretty and calming, and finishes the album off in a wash of bright color.

Dreaming In Stereo’s 2 manages to be both lush and earthy, progressive and accessible, a rich tapestry of classicist orchestral pop decorated with imaginative string arrangements and superb guitar work.  Neither as wild nor as heavy as Transcendence, Dreaming In Stereo finds a softer, gentler core to music that has a similar vibe of dreamy, fearless exploration.  Tasty stuff.

Rating: B+

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© 2011 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Forward Motion Records, and is used for informational purposes only.