Raising The Fawn
The North Sea
Sonic Unyon Records
Raising The Fawn, besides having an almost unbearably beautiful moniker, also have the good fortune of kicking off The North Sea with a gorgeous and fragile opening piece. “The News” is centered around an elliptical “ahhh” lilt by a female vocalist that recurs mechanically (almost like a loop) and metallic percussion, intercut by brushstrokes of Mazzy Star-ish guitar and wounded indieboy vocals that bring to mind Dean Wareham. The effect is a total embodiment of yearning. Glorious restraint fleshes out the nervous pacing and helplessness of unrequited love. Tension builds till the end without a clear resolution. After that, The North Sea is smooth sailing, with pleasant, wistful, very autumnal indie chamberpop that reminds me of Bedhead and Luna, with a lil’ Radiohead thrown in for luck.
There are moments of hope, though, where you see that this fawn is gonna grow into something special: The brushed drumming on “Home” is fabulously poised, like late night jazz; the sunshine falsetto of John Crossingham and the Peter Hook-esque bassline that drive along “Gwendolyn”; and, a horn break followed by xylophones? Perish the thought, gentlemen! “July 23rd” adds a welcome country shamble and shuffle to their repertoire, all unsteady and lovelorn, queasy guitars and straining vocals to a slow stumbling beat. Calexico deep in the green hills, all dewdrop treetops.
“The North Sea” starts off as a gentle, finger-picked reverie, but soon picks up into pretty driving, minimalist post-p(f)unk, krautrock groove, all nimble bass and trebly guitar flourishes over a staccato drum beat. What’s this then? Power and even some Metal Box-era Lydon-isms? Did you know he actually sang sometimes then? This is the one where they really showed me something. “Top To Bottom” could very well be a lost out-take from Kid A; scope out that record’s “In Limbo” and then come back to this piece of bathysphere dub.
And with monstrous journeys like “Drownded” and “ETA,” they seem poised to become a new Grateful Dead for the indie set. “Drownded” is a sprawling journey, slowly unfolding through jagged (yet tuneful) soundscapes. It even ends, then starts again, with foreboding, spidery guitar and bass interplay that weaves sharp, almost discordant webs of thuggish sound. There’s some strut buried in there. See closing number “ETA” for more of the same. Under a radar-like pulse, the music crests and wanes like the water on the cover of the record, running to its own internal logic and pacing. It ends with ghostly tones and hums from a phantom guitar. Pretty admirable, in all.
Sonic Unyon: www.sonicunyon.com