Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Heyday Blog review of Fruits de Mer's strange fish albums...


Couldn't help but notice this really neat review on Nick Leese's Heyday Blog of the new strange fish series from Fruits de Mer's Regal Crabomophone Records - and the particularly generous comments about Rainbow Jam Theme on sf5!


14.05.13 - Strange Fish are Happening! 

Fruits De Mer’s latest venture lands sometime in June. The ‘Strange Fish’ series has been mooted for a while, and is four loosely ‘themed’ albums (two on single vinyl and two on double vinyl) with a free CD of unissued music for purchasers of the complete set! CDRs of the albums have arrived here recently and this is one Pandora’s Box of krautrock, progressive/acid jams, electronica, and much more!

Coming from a psych/blues background I knew I’d be in for a challenge with the series, but the whole concept has kept me coming back to it for the last few weeks. I’ve played the whole series from start to finish, I’ve ‘dipped’ into various volumes playing specific tracks, not just because I may have liked particular tracks but also the ones I couldn’t take to initially I wanted to give another chance.

OK, so I still can’t take to ALL of the music on offer, but it’s been an adventure checking these sounds out!
I’m still not into pure synth sounds, unless played alongside the standard rock fare of guitars, bass and drums. A few years ago I experienced an intense headache listening to an electronic album, and I don’t suffer from headaches as a rule. Even now while listening to some of the tracks in this series, I still feel uneasy with the electronica tracks. I can also feel the temperature drop around me. Luckily for me, there are guitars, bass and drums (even saxophones too!) to be heard within the series, so I was in my ‘safety zone’ for at least some of the time!

Strange Fish One features floating ambient sounds. Sendelica contribute the track ‘Strange Fish’ here. This 24 minute jam features a simple ringing guitar motif and a bass line alongside various sound effects (plus a little altered tape speed!) I wouldn’t say the various stages of the piece ‘fit’ together seamlessly, but they hold my interest. It’s been the track I’ve returned to a few times. There’s something about the guitar in it I like. Reminds me of temple bells.

Strange Fish Two is loosely based around kraut/prog rock guitar led jams. More like it, me thinks! Organic Is Orgasmic feature with ‘At Dawn Of Men’. Haunting/spacey saxophone sounds are suddenly shattered after 5 minutes when the track hits a cool groove that’s pretty much maintained up to its 13 minute limit. Nothing is too rushed, it’s very controlled. Sendelica appear again with the wonderfully titled ‘80% Neon Bridge Of Sighs’. Very Floydian! Actually the track titles throughout the whole series are very imaginative – they make you want to hear what a tracks with these kind of titles sound like - good bait! Best of all on this particular volume is ‘Space Orchid vs. Massive Drumkit’ by The Grand Astoria. Lovely Eastern/Hippy vibe that mutates into another solid groove.

The third volume isn’t really for me. Based around kosmische/motoric/electronic sounds, I find it the most difficult volume to listen to, but I do have a liking for Vert:x (stars of the ‘The Crabs Freak Out’ CD). They contribute three tracks, two of which (’Bad Calibration’ & ‘Killer Beez’) feature their trademark ‘muscular’ riffing. I like the energy, it's relentless! And who let Hawkwind gatecrash too?

Now to volume four - the mood is gentle, and there’s acoustic guitar to be heard! Jewel in the crown is Hi-Fiction Science’s James McKeown. I’ve got copies of the two most recent solo outings from James and this guy creates some really beautiful instrumentals. He contributes four tracks here and each one is wonderful listening. ‘Euclid Dreaming’ is my particular favourite, but it could have easily been any of the others. The Vox Humana, who also feature members of Hi-Fiction Science, offer more gentleness with ‘Shortwave Radio And The Ionosphere’ another favourite of mine.

The Strange Fish 5 CD as I mentioned earlier, is only available with the purchase of all four albums. This features tracks that didn’t quite fit or work with the rest of the series, but there’s no slouching here. Jay Tausig’s ‘Shortwave’ is a beautiful groove, while Oceanfire fight off another Hawkwind intrusion on ‘Elevations’. Mustn’t forget ‘Cathedral’ by Purple Rock Trip either - this 11 minute track is a guitar orchestra! Finally, legendary songwriter Beau chips in with an unissued mid 80s track, originally recorded for a video project entitled ‘Rainbow Jam Theme’. This I really enjoyed! It’s a fuzzy Bo Diddley-esque work out. The ‘oddest’ track of the entire set for sure, but I defy anyone not to like it!

The Strange Fish series is definitely a challenging listen. Worth taking up though, you may get into something new - let’s compare notes at the end…

I’ll check in again soon.





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