Fontanelle – Vitamin F
For the last few years, Southern Lord has dropped some of the heaviest albums on earth…including several by Earth. They’ve put out drone, sludge, doom, thrash, hardcore, crust and punk. Now we can add some free jazz to the mix. While Fontanelle may at first appear an odd fit for the Lord, its members have been part of the family for a while. They have recorded and toured with Sunn 0))) and the album features guest musicians Gentry Densley and Steve Moore, from Eagle Twin and Earth, respectively.
As I read the press release and saw the mention of jazz, I was initially suspect. Often time’s metal bands have a jazz influence that doesn’t really work. But in the case of “Vitamin F”, this album is simply pure jazz, no metal with a few horns or a jazz break. Very much in the vein of Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew” or “The Shape of Jazz to Come” by Ornette Coleman but with more psychedelic undertones. This is a free jazz but it’s a bit more restrained than some of the genre’s classics. Open track “Watermelonhands” sets the tone with is heavy groove and the horns doing their thing, building to its climax. “The Adjacent Possible” slows it downa little with its stuttering beat and keyboard swirls. “Vitamin” brings a funky rhythm, while “Traymaturge” delves into a slightly proggy rock infused territory, with a Mahavishnu Orchestra” vibe. “When the Fire Hits the Forest” continues with a similar vibe, while Ataxia” delves back into a funkier vibe. The album closes with “Reassimilate” which has a slower and heavier jazz fusion sound.
The album moves along at a brisk pace, seven songs in around forty minutes; it never feels rushed and it never overstays its welcome and like many free jazz classics, it can sometimes be a difficult listen but it is always rewarding. But that’s what beautiful about this type of music, it brings you in and makes your work a little to understand it, but once you’ve got it, your mind will be opened up.