Fontanelle – S/T

Fontanelle was formed from the demise of Jessamine, a similarly hard to categorize band. Like many of the bands on Kranky, this is all instrumental and very free. You get the sense that these four musicians – two guitarists, keyboards and drums – are amazingly talented and are recording these songs as they just jam in a dark, likely very large room. At times their music evokes the haunting, chilling qualities of label-mates Godspeed You Black Emperor, at times the slower and deeper, more electronic feel of Can, at times a much lighter, jazzier feel. But mostly, the band incorporates all those styles into a very flowing, very free collection of tracks that are perfect late-night listening.
“Picture Start” begins very slow and dark, with loungy keyboards and some low-end guitar all below this very light, trippy beat. It has a very flowing quality with some echo on the keys and guitar that give it a somewhat chilling atmosphere. There is a completely free-form jazz thing going on here, especially in the underlaying keys and guitar. “Niagara” has a much more urgent feel, portrayed by the melodic guitars mixing with the keyboards for a very throbbing, pulsating effect. “Reflex Vs. Parallax” could come out of a 60’s movie, only slower and softer, with some incredibly soft and melodic keyboards. And “The Telephone Fade” downright grooves. It could be the soundtrack to some seedy underbelly bar from the original Shaft. “29th & Going” gets very free-form, with some 60’s funky keyboards – just a little – and some great drum work, but, by this point, it really doesn’t stand out from the rest of the songs. “Counterweight” finishes things off nicely, however, with some 60’s funky guitar and some free-form jazz and drums, really combining the best of both worlds without getting too fast or too carried away.
My first impression is to say that this music is chill, if I could get away with saying things like that. Very loose, very free, with a nice melodic characteristic to balance out the more jazzy side of the band, this music almost sounds too intricate to me, as if I’m not intelligent enough to completely grasp every nuance. But that’s ok, because it’s soft and subtle and flowing, and it’s really quite an incredible listen.