F/i — A Question for the Somnambulist
(Submergence SUB 5006, 2003, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2007-03-01
Since they appeared on the scene back in the 80s, Milwaukee-based F/i have established themselves among the forefront of American psych rock bands. Originally issued in 2003 (and now re-issued on the Strange Attractors label with a bonus track), this disk has held up as one of the best recent examples of its kind. Song titles like “Hit the Kill Switch, Eugene” and “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Daisy Cutter” don’t adequately convey the heights to which this quartet reach with their hallucinatory musical excursions. The songs range from the quasi-improvised, psych-rock of early Pink Floyd (“Uber-Wizards of the 88th Meridian”) to 70s German electronic rock a la Guru Guru (“Surgical Procedures on the Ship”) to Djam Karet’s early jamming space rock sound (“Using Enemy Weapons”). The psych immersion really deepens with the vaguely Middle Eastern tonalities and ambient textures of “No Pepsi in Kabul” and here Grant Richter’s electronics and synths guide the way, rather than providing their usual ornamental role on songs where guitarists Brian Wensing and Richard Franecki are the focus. Though heavily based on improvisations, the band operates with a unity of purpose that prevents most of the material from veering into the sort of indulgent jamming that can become quickly tiresome (though the 15 minute title track briefly tested my patience). On the whole there’s little to complain about and fans of early krautrock and hardcore psych owe it to themselves to check this one out.
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more