Exposé Online banner

Human Ottoman — Farang
(Bandcamp no#, 2015, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-04-03

Farang Cover art

This Oregon trio first came to my attention when they landed on the bill of the Seaprog festival. Their instrumentation is as unusual as their name: cello with effects, drums, and vibraphone with effects. Yeah, neither bass nor guitar, though obviously the cello can handle the low end. Farang is their second release, and it presents their “polyrhythmic rock” in eight cuts of energetic music balancing complexity and mayhem. “The Infernal Mechanism of Commerce” features a beefy, distorted low end with a grinding riff, pounding drums, and chanted singing. “Falling” gives the vibes a more prominent role, with the cello functioning much like an upright bass, and a sweet vocal part — though there is a middle section where they amp up the energy. “Nth Degree” has a cello part that’s a bit like a warped, distorted folk fiddle tune, at least for some sections. And in case you hadn’t noticed a connection with math rock, there’s a track called “3(5)+4” — which concisely describes its metric pattern. Overall, while Human Ottoman is a rock group, the attitude is clearly jazz-inflected, with composed parts approached in a spirit of improvisation. I’m sure these tunes sound a bit different every time they’re performed. As to the three musicians… while the cello and vibes provide the harmonic interest, it is drummer Susan Lucia who ends up stealing the show. Her playing is busy but not show-offy, solid and inventive even in the less aggressive sections, where she hits the rims and sides of drums instead of the heads. She is clearly an equal partner in the enterprise, not just a timekeeper. Matthew Cartmill’s cello has a monster sound, filling the roles that both bass and guitar would handle in a more conventional band. Sometimes a pure, natural tone is used, either plucked as a bass, soaring upwards like a violin, or sawing away rhythmically. At other times the tone gets downright nasty, with massive amounts of fuzz. The vibes are played by Grayson Fiske, sometimes sounding like what you expect from the instrument, sometimes functioning very much like a Rhodes electric piano, especially when augmented by various effects devices. I’m pretty sure an octave doubler is used to allow the vibes to play bass notes at times, and there are also some weird swoops that could be produced by any number of devices, giving a synthesizer-like impression. The bottom line is that Human Ottoman is one of the most original bands going, and lovers of avant-rock owe it to themselves to check out Farang.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Human Ottoman

More info
http://humanottoman.bandcamp.com/album/farang

Latest news

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Zao - Akhenaton – Zao should need no introduction for progressive fusion fans, as they were one of France's best groups of the 70s, releasing five albums, four of them essential listens. While Zao has reformed...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues