While some may feel it's in poor taste to review something I'm actuallyco-releasing, I also feel it's in poor taste not to share my opinion onsomething I love so incredibly.
This story actually starts over three years ago. Fridge's drummer, SamJeffers and I both were on the Pure-Impure mailing list. I had nevermet nor talked to the guy but liked the first couple releases from theband. He had pointed people on the list to the website he created forthe group and made some hint at perhaps "that web guy Jon Whitney"might be able to help them out with advice or something. Flattered thatthis guy across the ocean in a cool band knew who little ole' me was, Ibegan talking to him and as the 'Sevens and Twelves' compilation wasreleased, I had offered to do a website for the group on brainwashed.At the time (1998) I had a fairly good rapport with Thrill Jockey andKranky, when the group released 'Eph' by 1999, I had builtrelationships in Matador, Merge, and Mute. All of these people I beggedto give Fridge a chance. Just listen to them, perhaps pick up theirstuff and bring them over here to the USA! The general word on thestreet was positive but the labels had other priorities at the time. Iwent to the UK with my friend Nick on a vacation and happened to beable to catch Fridge in a show with To Rococo Rot and was not let downin the least. Sam sent me a CD of 'Happiness' back in February or Marchof this year I think, I don't believe his intentions were of anythingelse than to gauge my opinion. This time around the album was -too-good to give to anybody else. I had to release it myself, andthankfully with the collaborative efforts of Temporary Residence, ithas finally materialized.
Fridge are a group, a trio of friends who grew up together in Londonand have been recording together for many years. Try to remove yourselffrom the other reviews and blurbs which call this Kieran Hebden's"other project", as this is clearly something quite different. [Ifyou're looking for the catchy electro hooks and sampled riffs whichlitter Four Tet records, forget about this release all together.] It'sa remarkable output of three talented musicians who are completelyunafraid to try their hand at electronics, beats, emotional guitarmelodies or improvisation. Tactfully they succeed at bending genredefinition and deliver a solid and graceful album. They have learnedtheir instruments enough to get the sounds and melodies swimming aroundin their heads out — but never distort the songs with mathematicalsolos or over-the-top post-jazz wankery. 'Happiness' is nine songswhich don't lie to the listener, as their song titles adequatelydescribe the center stage elements of each song, "Melodica andTrombone," "Cut Up Piano and Xylophone," "Five Four Child Voice","Harmonics", etc...
Months after hearing it for the first time, I still get emotionallycaught up if Other Music happens to be playing it in the store or theradio station happens to be playing one of the cuts. Three weeks fromtoday I'll be greeting them as they arrive for the first time as agroup to the USA and I would lie if I said it won't be an emotionalmoment. Thanks to the band for one of my favorite albums of the yearand the opportunity to share it with so many. Hope those who are ablecan come out and see them live next month. Tour dates are on the website.