Tuesday, July 20, 2010

James Fella/Timeload Fowl - Split [Gilgongo]

Here I am being my usual tardy-ass self reviewing this LP that came out around 6 or 7 months ago I think. Better late than never, right? Hopefully.
Based on my experience with James Fella's solo work, it seems like he likes to recycle and remold random old recordings into something new. It's a process that's certainly been working for him but I was excited to see what he's like in live-performance mode rather than editor mode on the side-long live recording "5/14/09." As it turns out he's pretty damn good, maybe even being better in the live environment. Using sax, guitar and electronics Fella kicks things off with a whining thicket of distorted sax. I'm pretty sure that's the starting point but things get a bit twisted and pitch-shifted and so on by Fella's electronic gizmos. There's definitely some looping going on here but Fella does a good job obscuring which sounds are actually loops and which are live. Is the rumbling mound of distortion really a sax solo? I think so, but who can really tell what's going on in the Fellaverse. Soon, dips and swoops become a thick broad crunch without losing the melodic nuances underneath, not totally dissimilar from what the Yellow Swans did so well. At some point, Fella breaks everything up and starts fresh on a saxophone solo that's more feedback than instrument. As that fades, Fella whips of a guitar web of jingles, tinkles and drones. Though it starts out clean-toned, the flames of fuzz come a-lickin' eventually as a dizzying frenzy of guitar loops sets in. A mildly atonal arpeggio resurges though, overtaking the track with its wobbly windchime effect. The LP goes out on a nice aquatic percussive bit giving the piece as a whole a real nice arc as well as showcasing Fella's serious versatility.
The side by San Luis Obispo artist, Timeload Fowl, is parsed into three unadventurously named tracks. "Intro" comes alive with a round synth tone swelling in and out with some rather noisy work overlaid on top. The piece becomes gradually more complex as it moves along without ever relinquishing its mellow, chilly vibe. Really well-done and self-assured piece. "Untitled" bursts forth with noisy electronics. There's some barked vocals at the beginning that I don't really go for and the piece as a whole is a bit more fierce than "Intro." Though its noisier, it manages to attain the same calmness of its predecessor. Subtle synths move behind the distortion. Weird sorts of textures result, some chime-like while others sounds similar to a bassy string section. The piece sounds more and more open as it progresses, unfurling into an empty wasteland before contracting and cutting itself off. The final piece "Collaboration w/ James Fella" is just that. Thick distortion crackles along until a lone guitar starts a-strummin'. A fuzzy synth counters it. The track pretty quickly takes a different shape from everything else on the record. It flirts with doom metal vibes but it's too devoid of bullshit to be lumped in with all the "demonic" brethren. The guitar (sounds like a baritone possibly) lays out a great progression, the synth links up with a nice melody and then the sax starts blowing rippling sheets of sound. It's totally melodic and totally hypnotic. My favorite moment of the record. From there things breakdown into a sax/percussion freakout still shrouded heavily in distortion until they blip themselves off the screen. I'm jonesin' for some more of this Timeload Fella, how about a full LP next time? Thanks.
This record is still in print at Gilgongo it looks like and its a totally justifiable pickup so get on it. Who knows when these two estimable artists will share another LP. Comes in blank white jacket with wrap-around poster/cover and a full-size insert.

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