To be honest our knowledge of Jazz starts at the letter ‘J’ and ends on the second ‘Z’, but we know what we like and that without doubt includes Vitamin F, the new album from returning Portland jazz rock fusionists Fontanelle. Almost ten years after their previous release the band returns with an album which captures the imagination and ignites the passions, its wonderfully crafted and magnetic charms irresistible to any who find themselves tingling from inventive investigations of jazz, rock, and progressive imagination.
Released by Southern Lord, Vitamin F sees the return of founders guitarist Rex Ritter and keyboardist Andy Brown with Mat Morgan, Borg Norm, Brian Foote and Paul Dickow completing the line-up. Also featuring guest appearances from Gentry Densley (Eagle Twin), Steve Moore (Earth, sunn 0))), Hans Teuber, Eric Walton (Skerik), Jef Brown (Jackie-O MF) and Dave Carter, the album is a master class in funky swagger and passion, jazz improv and emotive craft, and energetic rock adventure. It leaves one deep in thought and pleasure whilst sending the appetite for more into lustful realms.
The release opens with the throaty pulses and smouldering caresses of Watermelon Hands, the track immediately a simmering wash of enterprise and intrigue. With relaxed yet keen rhythms and cosmic whispering the track stretches out with brewing horns and inciteful guitar play. The imagination is enslaved within the first minute, the passions soon after as the track floats and wraps itself around the senses and clouds the mind with warm yet challenging ideas. As the melancholic trumpet adds to the already shadowed ambience of the piece you find yourself drifting through darkened alleyways of emotion and veering towards oppressive drama. At the same time though it is so refreshing and invigorating, light and dark urging each on to do their worst and revelling in the confrontation, quite magical.
The following track The Adjacent Possible emerges as the favourite, its enticing and suggestive unflustered pace and tones teasing with intent and ambience whilst further shadows soak the hypnotic light of the melodic enchantment and horns. The build of tension is perpetual but never forced, weaves of relaxed caresses and soothing whispers entwined with the sturdier and sinister surges which keep everything magnetically elevated. The track is genius, a sonic narrative which inspires a myriad of tales. As it plays there are times it feels like the soundtrack to a soul drifting through fifties noir wrapped solitude and another time in its company may evoke sixties America lost in its own exuberant bubble but cowering before supposed external sinister forces beyond its borders. Each listen offers a new episode to imagine and immerse within.
The likes of the psychedelic lit title track with its extra-terrestrial rhythmic patterns (like the soundtrack to an adult version of seventies UK TV show Space 1999) and Traumaturge, a relatively gentle song but soaked in imaginative fiery passion and craft, take the listener into further exploratory pleasures. Both leave an acidic but contagious tang on the ear whilst the sensational and quite merciless When The Fire Hits The Forest just chains the by now bewitched heart with a blaze of blistering guitar, piano, and horn teasing. The track evolves like a shape shifting adulteress, the ever evolving discovery of unpredictable and complex wantonness a mighty discovery and treat for the ear and beyond.
Closing with the expressive and dramatic expanse of Ataxia and the more reserved flames of Reassimilated, the album is a thrill which just keeps giving. Immense on the first outing and more and more impressive and revealing on every subsequent sonic stroll in its company, Vitamin F is a classic with Fontanelle showing that the time away and involved with the individual projects of its members has only elevated the creative might and imagination of the band.
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