Howling Larsons’ Fool of Sound and Furry is a record with an identity crisis. Does it want to be an experimental ambient album? Psychedelic folk? Perhaps even martial industrial? Well, it seems to attempt to be all of these things at once. Can such a thing be accomplished?
The duo of Alan Trench and Rebecca Loftiss describe their sound as ‘noveau occult psychedelia’. There’s a certain charm to be found in this more lo-fi spectrum of the experimental music world. Fool of Sound and Furry is at once crunchy and spacious. It has that sort of ambiance where the listener can picture the wyrd duo sitting around a simple tape machine and overdubbing their creation with all sorts of strange and wonderful sounds and instruments.
The album’s first twenty minutes is taken up by three tracks of acousmatic ambience. It isn’t until the end of the third song that an acoustic guitar appears for the first time, signaling a change of mood in the album. The soft and melodious female voice on ‘A Measure’ reminds me of Washington State’s Arrowwood. Other songs, such as ‘Mother Moon’, seem to take more inspiration from B’ee’s unique In Gowan Ring ramblings. The lyrics of ‘As Then You Are’ are credited to Sufi master Hafiz, and are delivered in a way that is so reminiscent of David Tibet that one might think they were actually listening to a Current 93 song). ‘Cold Winter Sun’ starts off a little awkwardly, but the second half brings in a soaring psychedelic guitar solo complete with swirling background sounds that could have come straight out of a Hawkwind album. No sooner has the track ended and interest piqued before ‘Fell of Darkness’ comes to take the album over the line into six minutes of discordant string-plucking and awkward vocals that are largely unlistenable. The last two tracks veer back into the album’s earlier experimental sounds; loops of singing bowl and voice carry the listener through ‘Nihil Absolutum Est’, and the strange percussive track, ‘Accidental Being’, ends the album.
However, Howling Larsons could use a dose of brevity in their recordings. Any exception to the idea that any album over an hour is too long needs to find a way to be exceptionally compelling for that entire time span. Fool of Sound… just barely breaks that hour mark, but it meanders too long and lacks the dynamics to hold onto my interest the whole way. The ambient tracks are loaded at the front and back of the album, instead of being interspersed amongst the singer-songwriter style songs. Had Howling Larsons expanded on that middle section of the album and cut the fat off of either end, they may have been able to realize a much more impressive recording.
My first experience with Fool of Sound and Furry was driving down a long and empty highway in the wilds of northern British Columbia. The music seemed to mingle with the huge sky and trees flying by and was quite a pleasant experience in unison with these surroundings. Such experiences often make me think of the importance of context when listening to a given artist’s work. Such a long and lonely car ride, where the mind wanders from place to place and back again, turned out to be a perfect environment for me to be open to their music. Unfortunately, upon repeated listens I was just not as enthralled.
02) Duane Allman’s Hand
04) A Measure
05) And Then Your Are
06) Something on Your Mind
07) Mother Moon
08) Empires and Dominions
09) Cold Winter Sun
10) Fell of Dark
12) Accidental Being