Fuzzy Lights – Twin Feathers

Fuzzy Lights - Twin Feathers

With such instant progeneration through the musical conduits of the internet, the pressure on uncommercial fledgling acts to deliver definitive statements early on is perhaps equally as heavy as when major labels expect instant ‘hit’ status for an opening release from mainstream music peddlers.  Thus, it still falls to relatively old-fashioned artist-driven independent labels to support bands in developing themselves at a piecemeal pace that delivers positive progression across successive recordings.  Were it not for Little Red Rabbit Records’ long-haul sustainability mindset, then it’s arguable that a wonkily-named outfit such as Fuzzy Lights would not have made it past a promising but unrefined first album.

The creative step-up from said debut LP – 2008’s A Distant Voiceto this freshly-baked second full-length is remarkable in its elevation.  Following on from the detour into stripped-down two-person diversity on the Helm EP earlier this summer, Twin Feathers finds the five-piece incarnation of the group learning to stretch out with wider ambitions, whilst exercising more self-control and crafted subtelty.  Whereas A Distant Voice sometimes resorted to amplified crescendos to leave its mark a tad too heavily, here the quintet use noise eruptions sparingly to allow for a greater range of instrumental textures and for more abundant alluring vocals spots from co-leaders Rachel and Xavier Watkins.  The combined results form an album that uncoils steadily with thoughtful evocative arrangements and warm, empathic moodscapes.

Musically, the broader palette paints scenes that are distanced from the Godspeed/Mogwai-indebtedness of A Distant Voice. Wintry wordless post-baroque pieces stitch together the record’s flowing eclectic passages, as the opulent “Obscura” and the Eastern European-flavoured “Lucida” reveal.  There’s a significant influence felt from the pastoral pastures of Fairport Convention and Pentangle too, albeit fed through the acid-folk FX-pedals of Espers; as majestically expressed on the yearning “Fallen Trees” and on the harmony-drenched “The Sea And The Heather”.  It isn’t just bucolic impulses that gently push Twin Feathers into motion however; as the fluid balminess and purposeful angularity of primetime Yo La Tengo (circa-Painful and Electr-O-Pura) underpins the gently-lapping to storm-building waves of “Through Water” and “Shipwrecks”.

Beyond that, there is some noticeable affection for the deeply-loved Dirty Three, that almost automatically comes to any latter-day leftfield band with a violinist as a primary player.  But with such thinly-veiled Horse Stories/Ocean Songs nods as “The Museum Song” and “Slowing Time” tugging so strongly at the heart-strings, the ensemble at least know how to make any plagiarist crimes pay.  Perhaps the highest watermark of Twin Feathers comes when all of the aforementioned tributaries meet in a rich confluence on the gorgeously redemptive eight minute “Rituals”, that concludes itself with an uplifting brass-fueled coda washing over the swirl of richly-mixed sounds.

Like last year’s crowning glory for Little Red Rabbit Records – Lazarus Clamp’s still life-enriching Against Entitlement Twin Feathers manages to keep sturdy footholds in both artful urban and earthy rural worlds without succumbing to the constrictive clichés that dominate either.  In the process, this collection is set to become one of 2010’s most beguiling treasures.  Given the well-landscaped evolutionary incline that Fuzzy Lights’ career path has taken thus far, even greater peaks should be reached next time around too. Until then though, this is one lengthy long-player to get truly and happily lost in.

Little Red Rabbit Records

Listen to/download “Fallen Trees” by Fuzzy Lights here.