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Flor de Loto, Peru





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Flor de Loto - s/t. 2005 Mylodon (Chile); 2008 Musea (France)
Flor de Loto - Madre Tierra. 2007 Mylodon (Chile); 2007 Musea (France)
Flor de Loto - Mundos Bizarros. 2009 Mylodon (Chile); 2009 Musea (France)
Flor de Loto - Imperio de Cristal. 2011 Mylodon (Chile); 2011 Musea (France)

The Mylodon label has been responsible for turning up some great bands from Chile, and it’s nice to see them reach over to their northern neighbors in Peru, where we find the excellent band Flor de Loto. Peru had quite the psych scene in the late 60s and early 70s, and they possessed one of the world’s most exciting music movement of the day. But political conflicts were particularly hard on Peru, and the country degenerated into chaos throughout most of the 70s and 80s. Stability seems to have returned, and now we’re getting a new crop of music acts. Flor de Loto are very much a modern band, but one with two feet in the past. One foot goes to the heady days of the early 1970s that produced the progressive rock scene. The other "feet" goes way back to the indigenous tribes, and their musical traditions and folklore. So along with the usual rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums, they have a dedicated winds performer who plays on a variety of flutes, both classical and traditional. Somewhere between the aggressive Japanese band Naikaku and the classic Chilean group Los Jaivas is where you’ll spot the sound of Flor de Loto. Their formula is one that can go in many different directions and still be exciting.

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"Madre Tierra" is largely an extension of the debut, with perhaps a bit more extending of both of their distinctive styles, making the pole that much longer. On the one hand, the "Western" part of their sound is heavier with more jamming guitar and psychedelic solos. And then their Peruvian indigenous side is given more space for the variety of pan flutes and traditional melodies to be played out. Not surprisingly, Flor de Loto are at their best when melding the two for what becomes a pure fusion - a term that is often misused in the modern day lexicon. Overall "Madre Tierra" shows enough growth to distinguish itself from the debut. Hence, another recommended title.

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After two albums of pretty much perfecting their brand of instrumental heavy psychedelic rock meets Los Jaivas sound, it was obvious to Flor de Loto that they probably needed to alter their sound a bit, or they would begin down the road to irrelevancy. And that's just what they did. The collection of songs on "Mundos Bizarros" explore new directions in two different ways. One, they expand the compositions with more complexity and anted up the progressive quotient quite a bit. On the other, there are far more vocals here, adding some song craft that was missing prior. Not to say they've completely abandoned the sound of their first two opuses. In fact, when they do reach into their musical past, Flor de Loto are able to seamlessly mesh it within the context of their new direction, giving it a new fresh perspective. As well, the guitars are slightly heavier this go round, indicating a move to the prog metal camp on occasion. It will be interesting to see where Flor de Loto goes from here.

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I suppose it was inevitable, but Flor de Loto seems to have gone "whole hog" for prog metal on their 4th and latest album. While it would be unfair to classify this as Dream Theater with pan pipes, there is no denying the band's conscious move to the metal world. There's also many more vocals than prior, which detracts from their former focus as a creative instrumental band. Tracks like 'El Jardin Secreto' show that Flor de Loto haven't forgotten their past, and are more than capable to put together an instrumental psychedelic piece in the grand tradition of the masters like Los Jaivas, with gobs of wah wah fuzz guitar and flute. Still, it seems the band have painted themselves into a corner, and the concept is becoming monotonous. If reviews of any future albums state that Flor de Loto is moving even closer to the center, then I'll probably stop here at "Imperio de Cristal". Too bad the band hasn't explored further their psychedelic ambitions that they hinted at on their first two albums. They were definitely unique among bands. Not anymore it appears.

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