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Fontanelle
Fontanelle
F
Kranky

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Fontanelle is a many-faceted band whose members come from a range of musical backgrounds. Indeed much of Portland's experimental/improvisational world seems to touch on Fontanelle; band-members moonlight in such acts as Southering, Nudge, Strategy and Emergency. And yet Fontanelle's music is decidedly focussed. It's a sort of stripped-down, slightly spacy funk-jazz -- sort of like Spiritualized meets Medeski, Martin and Wood. F comes from the same sessions that produced the band's debut album -- and, in a sense, can be seen as a continuation of this effort.

"Fulcrum" begins the disc with a mellow groove and a buzzy, syncopated bass lick. The tune has the kind of understated strut that portends a big, crashing drum entrance, but none ever comes -- the song maintains its impossible sense of cool. "Corrective Lenses" sort of goes underground; it's a moody, wallowing thing that recalls some dim, smoky subterranean room. Like its predecessor, it refuses to allow itself to be seen clearly, obfuscating by doggedly returning to the same few musical ideas. "Floor Tile" is even more repetitive. Here, simple melodic figures are repeated ad nauseam, but with gradual, subtle shifts in pitch and rhythm providing a sense of "movement" from beginning to end. Recalling the early work of Philip Glass, the music is hypnotic. The addition of Tony Williams-style drums accentuates the rhythmic pulse and makes the whole thing swing to boot. "Walking with Mercer" moves repeatedly through a series of harmonic changes, creating a slow textural crescendo with instruments gradually entering the mix. The piece has a wonderful ringing quality as it climaxes due to the interaction of upper harmonics from guitar and keyboard distortion.

F is a great headphone album. Just tune into it in a dark room and let the images soar through your mind. This is evocative, imaginative music that struts while it meditates.

-- Noah Wane
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