SINGER reminds me of the moments when I'm climbing the staircase to
my bands practice space and I am able to hear 4
bands practicing at once, all at matching volumes. It's a documentation
of the rare times when somehow, the cacophony that echoes threw the
staircase seems to be mildly orchestrated - a snare hit in one room
triggers a wash of noise in another, or 2 guitars feedback in key with
each other. But the sounds on FLÖSSIN's debut full length are not accidental,
nor are they created by 18 people all playing shitty alternative rock
- they are created by 3 stunning improv musicians, CHRISTOPHER WILLITS,
ZACH HILL (HELLA), and MIGUEL DEPEDRO (KID606), who play off echother
like some uber modern jazz trio. The combined history and previous efforts
of these three artists becomes the soil from which new, prickly forms
As the direct opponent to "cold and calculated", LEAD SINGER is "warm
and spontaneous"; a sonic wash of masterful free-drumming, guitar manipulation,
and digital stylings which creates a warmth to bathe in.
grow up thinking "noise" is the sound of rage and destruction, of
dishes smashing against the wall or screaming voices or cars hitting
telephone poles. But outpourings of joy can just lead to chaos and
extreme volume. Noise is simply what happens when there's "too much,"
when containers are filled and things spill over the edges. The actual
feelings and sensations involved are wildly variable.
Freewheeling noise is what Flössin is up to, which is surprising considering
who is at the center of the band. San Francisco guitarist Christopher
Willits spearheads Flössin, but this outlet is miles away from the
focused and meditative micro-music he makes under his own name (the
best of which is on the excellent 12k label). Here, Willits collaborates
with Miguel Depedro (better known as Kid606) on computer and Zach
Hill (of Hella) on drums for an improv project in which the trio serve
up an unholy racket with a smile.
Word is that Flössin may one day involve a different set of players,
but Hill definitely dominates on Lead Singer. Fans of Hella will have
no trouble picking out his style, which manages to be both nimble
and heavy, but here, he applies his considerable chops to something
more loose and unpredictable. At first, Hill sounds like he's soloing
constantly, stringing one insanely complicated roll onto the next
like Moon's "My Generation" outro extended to album length, but upon
repeated listens, patterns in his sound emerge that are sympathetic
to what Willits and Depedro are up to.
Though Hill's role is easy to ascertain, with Willits and Depedro
it's hard to tell who's doing what. Since Willits typically plays
with his guitar processed via laptop, his tone can go anywhere at
any given moment, and Depedro seems content to fill space with drone
and assorted sound effects. On the third track (titles appear on the
sleeve, but they're crossed out with a sharpie), his guitar becomes
a singing sword-- something like Fripp tunneling through Eno's delays--
and his mournful extended tones against Hill's triple-time hits make
for an effective contrast. The fifth track contains some speedy atonal
riffs that definitely sound "guitar-like" inside a gray cloud of feedback,
and then Depedro sets off-kilter loops of machine noise against Willits'
anti-guitar heroics. Highlights come when Depedro and Willits lock
together to spin out vaguely discernable melodies that somehow get
broken in all the excitement.
Occasional clusters of CD skips appear to remind us that there is
computer software in the room, but Lead Singer sounds strangely analog
and most certainly live, with a strong dose of room ambience and a
recording with such heavy bleeding it may as well be mono. Most importantly
Lead Singer sounds bashed out for the sheer pleasure of it, and the
thrill is contagious. If loud, rough, and noisy music once seemed
an outlet for anger, bands like Flössin show how much happiness there
can be in unbridled sound." - Pitchfork
"This group has
tightly fused the elements of improv, noise, and drone, into a deliciously
deceptive package that sounds so gosh darn good."