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Fontanelle : Vitamin F

You wouldn’t normally associate Greg Anderson’s iconic, metal-loving Southern Lord label (home to Black Breath, Wolves In The Throne Room and Earth) with jazz, but then we’re not exactly talking the Temperance Seven here. Reconvening after a ten year hiatus, Portland-based collective Fontanelle’s third LP Vitamin F recalls the dark fusion of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miles Davis’ classic electric groups with a collection of swampy voodoo grooves no doubt inspired by founding guitarist Rex Ritter’s recent stint as a touring member of label-mates Sunn O))); employing many of the same guest musicians from that band’s last album Monoliths & Dimensions – Gentry Densley (Eagle Twin), Steve Moore (Earth), Hans Teuber, Eric Walton (Skerik), Jef Brown (Jackie-O MF) and Dave Carter – it’s a horn-heavy affair that will no doubt appeal to the more chilled-out side of your average experimental metal-head. Although “fusion” seems to be something of a dirty word these days, the sextet (Ritter plus Andy Brown, Mat Morgan, Borg Norm, Brian Foote and Paul Dickow, aided by engineer Randall Dunn) make no secret of their reverence for the genre; utilising modern studio trickery to emulate the techniques Davis and producer Teo Macero used in the late ’60s and early ’70s – editing and digitally manipulating recorded performances to create “new” solos and structures – Vitamin F‘s slower numbers pay homage to the stoned ambience of Miles’ first “electric” album In A Silent Way whilst the more uptempo sections closely resemble the manic fury of his 1970 masterpiece Bitches Brew, and although the odd outside influence creeps into play (“Traumaturge” displays a slight Afrobeat flavour, “When The Fire Hits The Forest” (below) contains some scorching Funkadelic-style guitar solos), the whole thing sounds so authentic it’s like being transported 40 years back in time to a period when the idea of “experimental” music could still produce something fresh and genuinely exciting.

Vitamin F is out now via Southern Lord.


About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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