Fontanelle: Vitamin F

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.

RingMaster 05/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Eagle Twin : The Feather Tipped The Serpent’s Scale


Like melodic tar the heart and breath of The Feather Tipped The Serpent’s Scale, the new album from US sludge metalers Eagle Twin, sticks to and smothers the senses with startling intensity and refined craft. It is a coarse and scorching experience which ignites creative fires and expressive thought whilst treating the ear to adventurous and provocative imagination.

From Salt Lake City, Eagle Twin consists of guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley of legendary post-hardcore/jazz band Iceburn and ex-Form of Rocket drummer Tyler Smith. Together they create a sound which at times is concussive but is perpetually swarming all over the senses to evoke and provoke. Their sludge metal core pulsates with heavy metal and progressive essences to easily set them apart from fellow genre bands and make time spent in their consumptive presence memorable and rewarding.

The Feather Tipped The Serpent’s Scale follows directly on from their acclaimed debut album The Unkindness of Crows. Though there was a split 7″ with Night Terror in 2009 before the first album and another split, this time an album alongside UK band Pombagira in late 2010, the new release continues directly the concept started with The Unkindness of Crows, picking right up where it left off. The first album investigated and brought themes regarding the crow, their portent and associations in biblical and mythical worlds. The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale continues from the crows having battled the sun to be burned and sent back down to earth as black snakes, the album theme this time looking at the serpentine presence within mythic and symbolic arenas.

The album ignites and swarms over the senses with the opening Ballad Of Job Cain, a two part eighteen minute epic which sizzles with sonic derision and blood boiling grooves brought through a malevolent intensity. The guitar of Densley embroils the atmosphere in showers of consumptive blistering sounds and energy whilst the rhythms of Smith masterfully frame and direct it all through the ear with gladiatorial skill. The vocals of Densley growl with a gravel infused tone to his chanting and singing, his Tom Waits like delivery so abrasive at times you feel the flesh in his throat withering.

As with the following Adan (Lorca), the pieces do stretch the staying power though the quality and evolving invention ensures there is never a moment one is looking forward or for an exit. The third song has moments where it is a maelstrom of energies and festering sonics to make general discord feel like a quiet afternoon, its corruptive heart disorientating and vehement. The song does temper it with some melodic stretches which helps what is a testing yet rewarding track find a ready welcome.

The following Snake Hymn and Horn Snake Horn assault with equal expertise and deviousness, the first a slurry of guttural borne riffs and malicious rhythms which leave the body restless yet mesmerised and the second is a track which with a relatively brief stay is a slowly searing melodic heavy weave which envelops like acidic fog. Both evoke shadowed emotion and thought and though the lyrics get smothered by the intensity at times the song still evokes ideas. The second of the pair leads straight into its companion It Came To Pass the Snakes Became Mighty Antlers, an excellent though fleeting instrumental which is as delicious as it is caustic sonically.

The closing Epilogue, Crow’s Theology brings things to an oppressive end, its doom assault a raw and devouring weight which sucks the air from within its recipients. It finishes off with a towering presence what is an immense album. It is not a release which maybe is going to top favourites lists outside of the genre but easily stands equal with any album in regards to craft, invention, and imagination, and well worth almost an hour of any life.

RingMaster 24/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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