Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Jonathan Wilson-Fanfare

Fanfare is the third studio album from Jonathan Wilson, a noted producer and active participant in the Laurel Canyon sound which has seen a revitalisation of the L.A music scene. His production credits include the first two studio albums for Dawes, Father John Misty's Fear Fun and the new Roy Harper album Man and Myth.

Fanfare is a cosmic sonic exploration of gigantic proportions, it's deeply rooted in the ethos of the Laurel Canyon, tight harmonies floating across a dense layered sound that is at most times dark but with a piercing soulfulness. The sound of the album is all encompassing, like dense clouds moving across the horizon, it has an energy and purpose all of it's won, it's a brilliant album and a testament to the beauty of the past. It evokes the spirit of Crosby Stills and Nash with those precise harmonies, Graham Nash sings backing vocals on some of the tracks. Wilson also takes a cue from the guitar work of Stephen Stills especially on Dear Friend with those patented guitar licks, that Hendrix infused sound that Stills really bought to the fore in his work with CSN and his solo work. It also draws influence from the brilliant Pacific Blue album recorded by Beach Boy Denis Wilson in 1977, that amazing ode to California.

The title track gives an indication of what is to come, a cosmic opening, a desert setting, plenty of space interrupted only by the sound of a piano. Then there is an explosion, loud pounding drums and strings that creates an almost cinematic atmosphere. Wilson's vocals sound like a stripped back Jeff Lynne, the vocals held back, given the freedom to float alongside the strings. The song then takes on a darker hue with a piercing sax solo, it has a distinct Pink Floyd sound with all these musical ideas contained beautifully in one song. Dear Friend starts off like a folk carnival, cascading harmonies twisting in a musical breeze before those Dave Gilmour sounding chords take off and we are off down a darker road

Dear friend something eating you up from the inside
Such a boring thing, it's got you and it's studied you.

Love to Love is another delightful twist, summoning the jangling chords and keyboard driven sound of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, I think Benmont Tench plays on this track as well. It's a song that captures that relaxed spirit of L.A and the canyon, it's great that another generation of musicians are being drawn to such a powerful creative centre and recapturing the spirit of an amazing sound that helped to shape music in the late 60's and early 70's.

I saw venus just north of Zuma beach
She was too hollywood to recognise even me

Future Vision is an open vista, loud pulsating drums, grandiose and then it changes summoning up a funky reawakening

Did you see that future vision
I held it right in front of your eyes

Cecil Taylor is a tribute to the giant of free jazz, elegant and ethereal in it's praise before it takes off embracing the same open sound that Taylor pioneered as a jazz musician. Fazon opens up the same way, a blast of sax, whirling electronica melding through on the path to a relaxed groove. Wilson never plays it safe when developing his palette, he isn't afraid to push the envelope and in doing so has crafted an amazing album.

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