Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun Machine - Sonnenhuhn (2009)

2009 ended up being a smash year for the Avant-prog/RIO(post-RIO?) scene. Releases from Univers Zero, Magma, Alamaailman Vasarat, Present and even some previously-unreleased music from leg-ends Henry Cow dotted the year, as well as some lesser-knowns scoring hits (Jono El Grande, Aranis, Runaway Totem), but even among those, Fun Machine's debut Sonnenhuhn stands out as, at least, one of the more interesting.

We could poke and prod at what makes it avant-prog, because there is enough of it there. Complex rhythms, linear drumming, looping guitar passages, start-and-stop melodies that are now more known for their place within math rock than anything else, as well as the obvious strings, organs, synths and horns will quickly relate this band to the classics. However, even with those common styles, this is without doubt, different.

But it takes a while. The first several minutes of the album mostly involve them noodling through passages with great efficiency, conveying what comes off as an inorganic form of what previously-mentioned bands had worked with. As the album goes along however, things change. The band has more fun and mischief with the music, and things become nearly satirical. Much like Samla Mammas Manna, or Cardiacs, they throw in these somewhat pop-ish passages, with vocal patterns very similar to Cardaics' own Tim Smith. Continuing throughout this happens even more frequently, switching between the rock and "progressive" aspects of their sound faster than one can realize. Couple these wild connections with cheep midis straight from a 16-bit RPG and you have a wild album that without a doubt deserves a mention with some of the heavyweights.
For fans of all progressive rock, or even a fan of a band like Mr. Bungle looking to get closer to the style that they were certainly influenced by.
Well... I guess it's for anyone. This is a fantastic record.

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