Dave Fischoff – Winston Park

Dave Fischoff
Winston Park

Dave Fischoff has single-handedly created an entirely new musical genre. This is without a doubt one of the most unique and interesting albums that I’ve listened to in a long time, but it doesn’t even come close to the experience of Fischoff live. Here are the elements: Fischoff’s soft, breathy, whispered voice, some very very soft tape loops, and an occasionally plucked electric guitar. It’s the barest of music, the kind of music that makes you conscious of your own heartbeat and your own breath. Fischoff’s vocals are as much an instrument, every breath and sound audible but making it extremely difficult to hear the poetry he is singing. It’s so quiet, so moody, so sincere. I can’t help but think of Low, if they stripped down their already stripped down music even more.
Take “Happy Birthday, Dear Norman” for example. It starts with the softest of tape loops, occasional mumblings or murmerings or other sounds heard while Fischoff breathes his vocals directly into the mic, pretty much directly into your ear. It has an intimacy I’ve never heard in music before. “First Sleep After the Riots” has the guitar, very soft and pretty but barely played, and Fischoff’s vocals are a little bit more comprehensible. “Naked, he tears up the Tribune and folds the scraps into little sailboats. A nudge and a blow and they float like carnival hats to the far end of the tub,” Fischoff sings/breathes. All of his lyrics have that same intimate almost-story feeling. And he’s not afraid to stop singing and just play, note after note, sometimes louder and sometimes so soft you can barely hear. He even sings over his own tape-blurred voice for a totally unique effect. “Sallow” is probably the most intimate of songs, the vocals sung so sincerely and quietly you strain for every word, barely noticing the soft guitar plucked here, and then there, in the background. It ebbs and flows, almost like a living thing, getting louder and then softer and, like many of Fischoff’s songs, ends abruptly. I’d have to say “926,” with its repetitive loop of five piano notes and the swirling behind it, with Fischoff’s so soft vocals, is one of my favorites. The piano sound mixes it up a little, and Fischoff sounds especially heartfelt on this track. On “Photo From a Car in Winter”, Fischoff sounds like he’s singing from way in the background while the tape loop plays a mix of noise. And he barely sings on “Breakfast in Covington, GA,” whispering one word at a time while barely touching his guitar.
Warning: Do not listen to Fischoff while driving, while trying to work, while doing anything that requires concentration. His music will just suck you in, seeping all conscious thought and losing you in the most quiet and somber of sounds. It’s rock at its absolute bearest, but it’s also intimate and beautiful. Best enjoyed with the lights off and your eyes closed. Hear that? It’s your heartbeat. It’s keeping the beat.