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Like the name
suggests, Max Fotheringham’s debut album reads like a series
of extracts from a somewhat reverential source. There’s enough
substance to form a coherent thread of thought, and though it’s
never really heavy reading, it leaves an impression.
Where the song
titles are less verbose than monosyllabic hints at a deeper meaning,
a similar approach is reflected in the album’s production. It
doesn’t sound like there’s a lot going on, but there are enough
goodies buried in the production to reveal the album’s depth with
each listen. The same applies to the harmonic qualities of the songs
themselves; initially appeasing, but ultimately enriching.
Minimalism is the
key here, but there are moments where the collage of sounds burbles
to a crescendo with liberating effect. Opening track ‘Outset’ is
the best example of this, with gently strummed chords undercut by a
murmur of distortion. Eventually, cascading cymbals signal the song’s
climax and transition to the next song, but it isn’t overwhelming.
Rather than being something that crashes over you, Fotheringham’s
harmonic wave is an easy one to ride. There’s just enough undertow
to drag you back wanting more.
intended it or not, Fotheringham doesn’t give it to you as
much as you’d like. ‘Perikope’ could have done with more of
those climactic moments, for too often the songs amble along without
getting to the point. That said, the songs are never convoluted and
each is like an edifice worth admiring. The stasis may be frustrating
for some, but engaging for those who like to sit and submit.
‘Home’ is one
of many songs to employ recurring melodic motifs to great effect,
amidst a backdrop of field recordings and sustained tones. The use of
found sounds brings to mind some of Jim O’Rourke’s work,
with Fotheringham’s breathy vocals equally evocative. There
are parts where his guitar tones sound remarkably similar to Dire
Straits frontman Mark Knopfler’s National guitar. Like a
slightly more subdued version of the classic rock outfit,
Fotheringham’s band succeeds in sounding like a single
entity. No one instrument competes for your attention, but rather
conspires with the others to create a sum greater than its parts.
is an album of plaintive tunes which gets more gorgeous with repeated
plays. Best enjoyed with a packet of Ruby Red whilst the sun sets on
a windswept lonely beach,
Review by Daniel Tucceri