RCA Victor 1971 / Sommor 2016
Catalonian rock astronomer casts a glance across the Solar system and finds the sight to be psyched up and down.
There were many faces to Barcelona’s own Frank Dubé, including a comedian one, but his claim to fame lay with introducing rock ‘n’ roll and then twist to Spanish audiences – no mean feat in the Franco era. By 1969, when a man first walked on the Moon, the artist’s mind was well off commercial rhythms, though, as he set his sights on space with a prospect to take a Holst idea of painting planets in sound to a new age. Cue eight mind-boggling pieces wrapping snippets of melody in early electronic effects that Dubé had to come up with because local studios didn’t have the units he needed for a random trek around our corner of cosmos.
These weird sonics color the proto-punk wigout of “A Plutón” but Frank is as belligerent – and arresting, in line with the description of Ares – on “A Marte” whose jagged riff resolves in a jazzy jive. The sultry heaviness of this exploration can’t be denied, albeit the organ-led “A Venus” is funereal, rather than erotic, while the galloping drums drive “A Mercurio” towards dancefloor. Still, the record’s psychedelic edge, shaped as a tribal chant on “A Júpiter” and bristling with wild splashes of brass and lysergic guitar elsewhere, subsides for the blues of “A Neptuno” for a bass to reflect on its watery nature and offer English lyrics for a change. That’s as down-to-earth as it gets here.
As the only planet obviously missing from the album was Earth, Frank focused on mundane moves in 1974 on a follow-up to “Proyecto A” that didn’t see the light of day. Augmenting the original tracks here, “Proyecto B” – with Dubé accompanied by ICEBERG, Spain’s best prog band – signals his move into fusion, the synthesizers of “Somos tres” blending nicely with percussive Latin grooves. There’s pop agenda in the funky likes of “Dirty Money” that somehow outstay their non-celestial body welcome, but the foot-stomping of the sax-salted “Searching” is irresistible, as is the flute-fueled “Sweet Love” showing how hard Frank could rock when he wanted.
Too bad he didn’t seem to want it, and that was the end of PROYECTO. A nice experiment, all but forgotten now.