Fievel Is Glauque - Flaming Swords Music Album Reviews

Fievel Is Glauque - Flaming Swords Music Album Reviews
Multi-instrumentalist Zach Phillips and singer Ma Clément craft alluring jazz fusion songs in miniature. It is heady but not stuffy, precise but not rigid, dense but not cluttered.

Zach Phillips places a premium on preparedness and growth: the rehearsals are plentiful, the recording sessions are brief, and the next opportunity for collaboration is always just over the horizon. Since founding the eclectic label OSR Tapes (now known as “la Loi”) in 2007, the Brooklyn-based songwriter and bandleader has released music under myriad monikers—Horse Boys, Nals Goring, Jordan Piper Philips, GDC, Bruce Hart—and with several side projects—Blanche Blanche Blanche, Perfect Angels, etc. When his new partnership with Belgium-based vocalist Ma Clément produced the homespun God’s Trashmen Sent to Right the Mess, it sold thousands of copies and landed them a spot opening for Stereolab. Flaming Swords, the first studio album from Fievel Is Glauque, makes God’s Trashmen seem humble by comparison. Cramming highly technical and conversational fusion compositions within sub-two-minute songs, the album has the allure of a puzzle box with no right or wrong answers: just barrages of instrumental hooks and Delphic ponderings of the human condition.

Whereas God’s Trashmen compiled mono cassette recordings across five sessions from five permutations of musicians between 2018 and 2020, Flaming Swords was recorded live in a single evening in Brussels during summer 2021 by a septet of old and new collaborators. As their arrangements grow more complex and texturally rich, Fievel Is Glauque benefits from this immediacy. Johannes Eimermacher’s piquant alto sax leads the opener and title track as Gaspard Sicx’s drums engage Phillips’ keys in a coltish tussle. Clément’s sugary soprano and Eric Kinny’s lap steel swiftly diffuse the kineticism, transforming licks of Biblical fire into a smoke-filled speakeasy. When the rhythm fluctuates, Clément matches it with her phrasing. 

It’s one of the most apparent evolutions from God’s Trashmen. Now composing alongside Phillips, Clément has more opportunity to flex her paradoxical ability to ground a piece with ethereal musings. Whether tiptoeing sylph-like across Sicx’s skittering cymbal taps on “Days of Pleasure,” sprinting through a recitation of a French apology letter for the belated arrival of a James Last cassette on “Boîte à Serpents,” wringing every drop of aching fragility from the brief runs of “Constantly Rare,” or soaking up the paranoia of Eimermacher’s swarming locust notes on “Wrong Item,” her range is subtle but stunning. While Clément’s approach can be taken as reticent—favoring cloudy poetry delivered with a lilt—its gentle cadence serves as an olive branch on an album that may otherwise seem daunting.  

Phillips declines to prompt listeners to think or feel a certain way about Flaming Swords. “If this music is ‘for’ anyone, it’s ‘for’ the people who play it,” he told Post-Trash. You’d be forgiven for taking that as stubbornness. Fievel doesn’t willingly invite comparison to anyone—let alone contemporaries—and Phillips scoffs at the idea of making music to tap into a market. One could stretch and call them philosophically aligned with the recent wave of “viral jazz,” at least as far as refusing to adhere to strict concepts of what jazz, prog, or avant-whatever represent. Incidentally, Fievel has more in common with the Rock in Opposition movement of the ’70s: Flaming Swords, like black midi’s Hellfire, could be regarded as current endpoints of divergent paths from The Henry Cow Legend. But when pressed for influences, Phillips eagerly points fans toward Uruguayan music: specifically, a 100-song compilation titled La Otra Mitad. This affability is woven into Flaming Swords’ tendency to confound: It’s a mysterious friend who’d love it if you understood better, but you’re going to have to work for it. 

Still, wispy threads present themselves. The album’s title references the Book of Genesis, where the flaming sword prevents humanity’s re-entrance into Paradise. Fievel implies that quixotic notions are our flaming swords: that the uncritical embrace of idealism and the attempt to control what can’t be controlled block our route toward truth and inner peace. The neurotic introspection of “Save the Phenomenon” wrestles with confirmation bias (“Give me what’s better wrong”) while “Porn of Love” accuses romcoms of distorting our perceptions of romance much in the way pornography can warp one’s view of sex. The conversation between a swordsman and a poet that ends “Days of Pleasure” is most telling: Each participant is envious of the other, longing for what could be and lacking appreciation for what is. The presentation of these ideas is akin to that of a Rorschach: blotchy, based on feelings sparked by intonations, enforced by the re-jumbling of jumbled sequences. We’re all sifting through the mess together. 

Flaming Swords is heady but not stuffy, precise but not rigid, dense but not cluttered, and contemplative but not lacking good humor. It exists as a fitful reflection of Phillips’ past decade and a half as a musician and a refinement of lessons learned across dozens of projects, suggesting that the technical music of today need not adhere to a regressive worship of the past nor succumb to a cold, cynically quirky vision of the future. It can be as heartfelt as it is cryptic.  It can simply be, a dilated and present moment that translates the psyche as it naturally operates: nebulous, frenzied, contradictory, and beautiful.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Fievel Is Glauque - Flaming Swords Music Album Reviews Fievel Is Glauque - Flaming Swords Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 07, 2022 Rating: 5


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