I began listening to this disc before I realized it was a concept album. "How odd," I thought. "It sounds like the soundtrack to a holistic horror movie." It turns out I wasn't far off the mark.
Fungicide is the first album from Pittsburgh-based Devereux, inspired by Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris series of sci-fi /fantasy stories. Just as most fantasy authors create painstakingly detailed worlds in order to give their stories an aura of legitimacy, Fungicide utilizes natural sounds and handmade instruments intertwined with electronic noises and cleverly manipulated samples to evoke a similarly all-encompassing vibe. It's as though Devereux is trying to build the world from the ground up, but the results are uneven, unfriendly and uncivilized -- albeit highly listenable.On the first-person narrative "The Exchange", the "instruments" are all derived from vocal samples run through several levels of post-production to approximate the sounds of guitars, drums, etcetera. "Dradin, In Love" is interrupted by the cacophony of an implied passing parade during a holiday in Ambergris -- the "Festival of the Squid", which receives its own theme in a piece Devereux rearranged from a traditional Moroccan folk song. As an added bonus, the disc also features two excerpts taken directly from VanderMeer's work. One, "The Transformation of Martin Lake", touches on an academic appraisal of the life and work of an artist in Ambergris with an almost NPR-like efficiency. The other, a reading by VanderMeer himself of "The Exchange", should provide a window into the world of Ambergris, as well as the mind behind stories so powerful that they inspired a full concept album.
Although Robert Devereux may have conceived Fungicide as an ode to an author he greatly admired, VanderMeer himself should be flattered by the depth, breadth and quality of the work.