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Fotosputnik - Cormorant Dusk CD (album) cover





3.05 | 3 ratings

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3 stars Fotosputnik's music has been described as having "propulsive-hyperactive motorik retro-kraut tendencies" and typically their music has been recorded with a lo-fi process to give it a grittier and more improvisational feeling which would reflect back to the earlier days of krautrock and space rock.

The band was founded in Chicago in 2008 and has released both physical albums and digital downloads through the years since that time. "Cormorant Dusk" was released in November of 2019 and features 4 long tracks with a total run-time of about 45 minutes. This time, the band has chosen to move into hi-fidelity sound to help bring out the subtle sounds and elements in the music to help more textural nuances sound more focused. However, even with a more hi-tech sound on this album, it was still recorded at home. The sessions for the albums began in March of 2016, and this time, the band was more focused on emphasizing a middle ground that not only retained the motorik style, but also incorporated the use of drones which are used in their live shows. The band line-up continues to consist of the original trio of Graham Grochocinski, Jeff Tverdek and Tom Blackwell.

"Leveling" (14:48) immediately starts with a typical motorik style with the moderate 4 / 4 beat, and the exploratory sound of psychedelic and echoing guitar layers. At the 6 minute mark, the drumming stops and we are left with the guitar layers as they continue to play along, but the sound of a fuzzy drone starts to ebb and flow underneath. Everything tends to break apart, falling away from any rhythm and becoming more exploratory as interesting effects start to float around, the music becoming quite minimal, yet also experimental, but never losing its trancelike style. The sound becomes more unearthly and spacey as more electronic manipulation takes over, yet just floats along at an even dynamic. The rhythm never returns as this sound continues to the end.

"Parade's End" (7:04) is begun with a low drone, and then crashing and squealing guitars come in creating a dark and heavy tone. The music is much noisier now, with the fuzzy undertone continuing and the guitars sounding heavy and sludgy and a muffled slow beat of the percussion buried in the mix. Guitar layers are thick and noisy, but softens after the 5 minute mark, and then the rhythm develops into a hand-drum sounding effect with soft crashing cymbals and a repeating pattern with the guitar until the end.

"Beneath the Reef" (11:13) begins with a steady beat of the drum in 4/4 again, slow with an accent on the 3rd beat so that it sounds almost like a Native American rhythm. All the while, chiming and soft guitars play a pensive progression the repeats, almost melodically. The drums, after awhile, start to include short rolls, so it almost becomes a slow march, and the bass becomes more prevalent and giving more forward movement to the music. There is only subtle changes as it rolls along, but at 6 minutes, a dark drone comes in and wipes out the rhythm, leaving only an echo that flows in and out. Bass and percussive sounds try to reestablish themselves resulting in a tricky but repetitive pattern and the drone continues to modulate between brightness and darkness, loud and soft, and this trance-inducing pattern continues to the end.

"Suppositions" (9:46) begins with a bass pattern and some echoing effects and slow sustained guitar notes. The music continues to be ominous and slow, crawling along and taking it's own sweet time. Listening closely, you can hear some effects and sounds that you wouldn't hear with casual listening. Soon, around the 4 minute mark, a bit of intensity starts to build with effects swirling and winding around as an oscillating drone pulses along. The pulse stops and the bass crescendos and pensive guitar notes start to take over. The music now begins to move forward as the guitar creates a nice improvised melody.

This album can be easy to get lost in as the music is mostly trance-like and for the most part, stays pensive and reflective, except for the louder "Parade's End". The music is mostly soft and slow moving, with only one real foray into motorik/krautrock on the first track, the others being more atmospheric or heavily layered. The album is great for background listening or for meditation or getting "lost in", but the tracks themselves only show subtle and slow changes throughout their length. It's pretty good listening, but not in a entertaining way as much as a relaxing or meditative way, at least for the most part. There really isn't anything new here, but it is still good.

TCat | 3/5 |


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