(Insert witticism about dipping your toe in, the vastness of the ocean, water water everywhere,etc …) ___________________ …but you got to start somewhere…
Beau (England), Black Tempest (England), The Bordellos (England), Cat Frequency (England), The Cream People (England), Dead Pylons (England), Earthling Society (England), Elevation (USA), Frobisher Neck (England), The Golden Cake Company (Wales), The Grand Astoria (Russia), Julie’s Haircut (Italy), Mademoiselle Marquee (Scotland), James McKeown (England), Mechanik (Spain), Moonweevil (England), Oceanfire (England), Organic Is Orgasmic (Russia), Craig Padilla (USA), Palace of Swords (Scotland), Purple Rock Trip (USA), Sendelica (Wales), Jay Tausig (USA), Temple Music (England), The Amazing Sounds Of D.B. Turi (England), Vert:x (England), Vespero (Russia), The Vox Humana (Wales), Zenith: Unto The Stars (England)
Strange Fish, from Fruits de Mer Records, is a 4 volume set of ’extended prog rock tracks, acid-james, side-long ambient pieces, electric/acoustic guitar + electronics tracks,’ plus a bonus CD for the completists who clean their plate. And there is much to digest here. Surely many of the names, whether you’re a regular diner at Fruits de Mer, will be familiar while others will be the strangest of the fish. By casting a net this big, there are bound to be particulars and peccadilloes for everyone. That’s a given. It’s also a given that if you swim in similar waters as these fish do, you’re bound to be open to some new sounds, or at the very least a few new coordinates on the chart. Spanning the globe with running times from full-sides (Sendelica’s adventuresome, bubbling trip-fest Strange Fish) to day-trips, there is literally something for everyone.
Craig Padilla kicks off Strange Fish One with Full Moon World, setting the tone, but not the destination, with his electro space stretches. To run through every cut would not only be tedious, but a disservice to Strange Fish’s expanse. Exploration is no small part of the mission here, and though you’ll find plenty of heavily electronic mind twists and turns like Padilla, the ocean is vast and the species plenty. Sendelica tackle the title cut, flowing out over a full side, mapping and doing reconn through waters both limpid and dense with sound-colors darting and pinging like, well, strange fish. Right off the bat, Strange Fish One makes clear the scope of what’s to come pairing Sendelica’s more spacey prog leanings with Padilla’s electronics. Throughout all the volumes the diversity and range of ear candy all work in tangent to make a statement, a very broad one. Moonweevils short burst of idiosyncratic pulses may have an electro-base in common with Padilla, but it’s as different from that as it is from the more Kosmiche sounds of Black Tempest‘s Energy of Stars or the gentle and enigmatic Palace of Swords.
Fruits de Mer has said that if Head Music is where your ears are at, then Strange Fish can easily dock in your own head space, and that’s spot on. Though Head Music focused on Krautrock, the range of interpretations and executions were as varied as the type of music it sought to celebrate, making a statement far beyond the confines of a genre. Strange Fish does the same, blurry the edges of this head music revealing just how much the variety here shares in intent. Whether it’s the more folk leanings of James McKweon, the space prog of Vespero and Organic is Orgasmic, Jay Tausig‘s Kraut beat on the stellar Shortwave, or the foot through the floorboards space rock chug of vert:x and the outrageous showing of Oceanfire, the concrete target may be hard to put into words, but we have the music to do that for us and you’ll know it when you hear it. What you also hear, loud and clear, is the unspoken artist here: the sprawl. The height, width and depth of Strange Fish is as vital as any of the artists on display. You can take each album as a great compilation, or broad sampler of a handful of bands, but Strange Fish achieves maximum depth in full scope. Though it may not share the more direct intent of other opuses like The White Album, Physical Graffiti, or even Exile On Main St., what it does share is a celebration of those records’ sprawl. Depending on where your interests lie, and what defines a peak or valley, Strange Fish is never less than intriguing and fully successful in its reverence of the simple action of dipping your toe in stranger waters than you usual do. Fruits de Mer have the lures, the waters are stocked…all you have to do is wait for the bite after the nibble.