Dave Fischoff – The Ox and the Rainbow

Dave Fischoff
The Ox and the Rainbow

Dave Fischoff’s first album, Winston Park, was slower than slow, quieter than quiet, barely-there music that forced very careful, conscious listening. The sounds were whispers and heartbeats. It was truly a gorgeous work, yet by its nature inaccessible. On The Ox and the Rainbow, Fischoff has combined his penchant for quiet, sparse songs with a more developed, full sound to create something much more accessible and no less powerful than his debut.
This time around, Fischoff’s vocals are not so much whispered, giving you a sense of his vocal abilities, which are reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Jeremy Enigk. The vocals are often layered, and the guitar mixed much more in the forefront as a primary instrument. The use of pre-recorded tape loops and samples remains on this release, often falling deep into the background. And there is a much greater use of rhythm on this album.
Hints of Fischoff’s quieter side are apparent, even as the album starts with “A Nap at Truthtime, Some Magic Slips Away.” But the guitars and layered vocals come in for a kind of spiraling, swirling sound. “We Break Up and Watch the Angels Swim” sounds so fragile that it just might break, and yet it’s composed of a wash of noise overlapping Fischoff’s vocals and sparsely strummed guitar. On “Propaganda,” the recorded beat is more of a throb to accompany Fischoff’s vocals and guitar, and I get the sense of a song set to your heartbeat, and its follow-up, “For a Comic Strip,” is basically an a cappella track. And the closers, the quiet “The Science of Raindrops” and the lovely “Geranium” flow together into a beautiful, quiet hymn.
But it’s the more fleshed out songs that really shine. “Blemish and a Bowl of Oranges,” for example, is devastating in its simplicity, yet it contains guitar, drums, and even what might just be a xylophone. Fischoff’s vocals take center stage in this gorgeous, quiet, folk-inspired song. And the recorded beats mix effortlessly with the crisp guitar lines of “How Things Move in the Wind.” Then Fischoff changes things up, with “Propaganda” having a march-like beat and organ and even whistling, almost feeling like an Of Montreal song, perhaps.
The songs on The Ox and the Rainbow are shorter and fuller than Fischoff’s previous work, which will likely appeal to a wider audience. But what Fischoff hasn’t changed is the hypnotic effect of his music. His vocals, unique to say the least, propel the songs into poetry, and the use of unusual samples and recorded sounds on most tracks add a more experimental feel. Couple that with folk-inspired guitar and song structures, and you get a wholeheartedly powerful and moving release.