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Fontanelle, "Vitamin F"

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cover imageI do not know what I find more surprising, the fact that there is a new Fontanelle album at all or that it has been released by Southern Lord (who have been largely at sea barring the occasional good release these last few years). What does not surprise me is how good Vitamin F is. Had this come out ten years ago, it would have made total sense but the large interval between this and Fontanelle’s previous releases has not diminished this album’s impact. This is superb, essential, and every other word that I need to use in order to get people to listen NOW.

Southern Lord

Vitamin F - Fontanelle

Melding Miles Davis circa Bitches Brew and Sun Ra’s best keyboard explorations, Vitamin F sounds utterly timeless as the group pull sounds from the ether like jazz wizards. "Watermelon Hands" slips in and out of a cool groove and a tight release of pressure via a terrific saxophone solo which seems to come out of the same head-splitting space as Bill Pullman’s sax solo during David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Five minutes in and this is shaping up to be one serious trip.

"The Adjacent Possible" swaggers around like it owns the place (and for its duration, it does). Part King Crimson, part Stevie Wonder, the rhythm section play a brooding, bruiser of a backing as electric piano, guitar and synthesiser strut out of the speakers like prized fighters spoiling for a victory. Elsewhere, Fontanelle sound like they are going to out-Sabbath Black Sabbath on "Traumaturge," creating a heaving monster of a track before unleashing a killer melody almost out of nowhere. Nearly 25 minutes in and I am in need of a stiff drink to calm my nerves.

The last half of Vitamin F keeps up this level of sheer brilliance as the music goes up another level. "Ataxia," despite its name, shows the group exerting perfect control over their playing. As it flows along with a jaunty lilt to it, the brass and guitars explode out of the speakers with a joyous energy. While they nod to hard bop and modal jazz, Fontanelle sound like they are forging an alternative route from these styles that went unexplored during the free jazz explosion of the ‘60s. This leads into the anti-gravitational push of "Reassimilated" which calms things down considerably to finish off the album; a much needed come down after the highs of the previous six pieces. By the time Fontanelle bring things to a gentle halt, I am ready to hit play on Vitamin F again and get lost for another while.

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 November 2012 23:11  


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