Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Fred Frith - Speechless CD (album) cover


Fred Frith



4.06 | 31 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars First a big thankyou to Holy Moly (Steve) for suggesting I check this album out. This was Fred's second solo album after leaving HENRY COW and like the first one ("Gravity") he has a different lineup of musicians for each side of the original vinyl album. On "Gravity" he had SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA helping out on side one and THE MUFFINS helping out on side two plus other guests. Here it's ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN helping out on side one while on side two we get the band MASSACRE (Frith, Laswell and Maher) along with guests like SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA's Hans Bruniusson, George Cartwright, Tina Curran and more. I should mention that Fred would return the favour to ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN by producing their masterpiece of the following year "Les Poumons Gonfles" and also playing on it. He'd also help them out on their final release from 1985.

On side one we can hear samples of sounds that Fred used from street fairs from New York City along with sounds from street demonstrations. This can be heard right away on the short opener "Kick The Can Part 1" along with other sparse sounds. "Carnival On Wall Street" does sound like circus music somewhat as those tapes of street sounds again are used. This is cool. It's all so intricate and punchy and then it turns darker before 1 1/2 minutes which lasts about a minute before the previous soundscape returns. "Ahead In The Sand" opens with what sounds like deranged mellotron before percussion, horns, guitar, clapping and more comes and goes. Catchy stuff. "Laughing Matter / Esperanza" opens with street noise that builds then the music takes over. It turns more serious after a minute. Heavier too then back to the catchy intricate sound from earlier. These contrasts continue. Intense is the word after 2 minutes. Bagpipes are prominant in the latter part of this song. Street noise ends it. "Woman Speak To men ; Men Speak To Woman" is fairly strange with intricate sounds coming and going along with those taped samples. Avant is the word here. Spoken words in this one too. An insane but very good tune.

Side two begins with "A Spit In The Ocean" which opens with some very unusual sounds(haha). The rhythm section then kicks in. This is good. Horns join in and yes they too are left of center. Great track ! "Navajo" and "Speechless" were both based on live tracks performed by MASSACRE. I really like this track and it picks up late with horns. "Balance" has these prominant drums with intricate guitar then violin. Guitar is back replacing the violin 2 1/2 minutes in but not for long. "Saving Grace" has this tribal-like drumming as strange processed vocal expressions are added. Weird stuff man. "Speechless" has some deep bass and avant sounds. It sounds like woter after 2 minutes. "Conversations With White Arc" opens with a catchy rhythm as the guitar joins in. I like this ! "Domaine De Planousset" is laid back and pleasant (gasp !). "Kick The Can (Part 2)" sounding much like the opening track but better.

A solid 4 stars and certainly HENRY COW fans or for that matter ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN fans need to check this out. This is no doubt for the adventerous music listener.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this FRED FRITH review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.