Fennesz - Becs LP
Label: Editions Mego
Aside from a couple of respectable collaborations and some soundtrack work, Christian Fennesz hasn't released a proper solo album since the album Black Sea, which came out on Touch back in 2008. On his 2014 album Becs, Fennesz returns to the label that introduced him to the world, in Editions Mego; and he pretty much continues along the same path that he set for himself on that last album he recorded for them - the much lauded Endless Summer from 2001. That was a fractious record of polygonal melodies bathed in a candy-crush fuzz of pixelated, shoegazing blur, always alluding to the sunkissed glow of the California Dream, whatever that may be. Becs may not have the advantage of following up one hell of a single by Fennesz (in the very late '90s, he covered The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones), whereby he contextualized his sonic dislocation within the lineage of rock'n'roll and all of its mythologies of dissent, rebellion, sex, and whatnot. Yeah, it's a tough act to follow; but Becs is a wildly adventurous album with a substantial parity when it comes to the risk/reward equation. A heavily flanged, blindingly bright corona of digital treatments surrounds the Fennesz' guitar sound at the album's introduction, with all of the soft melodies buried in twinkling electronics and mirrored refractions. Fennesz follows this with a detuned alarm-call pulse that forms an insistently crawling rhythmic structure blasted with a malleable distortion, which in turn he counterpoints with a gorgeous, cathedral drone of sustained harmonics. An incremental retinal burn of guitar distortion shapes the brilliant track "Liminality" built upon a beautifully bittersweet, slowcore guitar chord whose roots lie in Slint, Codeine or maybe even the Durutti Column. Sparkling ambient passages beget discordant piano treatments akin to a computer-cracked Angelo Badalamenti which in turn beget more blossoming noise. Fucking brilliant.