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Fovea Hex, "Bloom"

Bloom is the first in a series of three releases by the collective known as Fovea Hex. Quiet and moving, this is a very promising first chapter by a group that contains some of ambient and experimental music’s most golden children backing up some equally golden voices. 


Die Stadt

Fovea Hex sees the likes of Brain and Roger Eno team up with Cloadagh Simonds (most famous for her work with Thin Lizzy and Mike Oldfield) and Carter Burwell (famous for soundtracking pretty much all of the Coen brothers’ works) to make some beautiful songs that touch on traditional, ambient and experimental music. As well as playing on one of the tracks, The Hafler Trio’s Andrew McKenzie has performed his production magic on each of the tracks. His influence is apparent but not overpowering. Simonds is the focus of the group, these are her songs.

Simonds’ lyrics are powerful, especially because of her delivery. On “That River” she conjures up images of a house that morphs all of a sudden into this beautiful description of a river: “She swerves a sapphire soul over the land.” Her singing is wrought with emotion, her voice blends a few traditional styles of singing, most prominently Ireland’s sean nós singing. I found that the other vocalists and musicians were all sympathetic to this style (half of the members of Fovea Hex have a solid traditional Irish music background) which means that the songs don’t end up sounding like a hodgepodge of new age commercial rubbish like the demon queen Enya.

As expected by the line up, the music is all soundscapes and ambience. Despite the mention of fretless bass and zither in the liner notes, the opening track “Don’t these windows open?” seems to consist entirely of disembodied voices with Simonds dancing lyrically over them. The entire record makes great use of sound as a three dimensional phenomenon. By walking around the room the sounds take on different characters. This is the subtle McKenzie effect I referred to above, it’s a trademark Hafler Trio technique but Fovea Hex does not sound like the Hafler Trio. Fovea Hex is more reminiscent of Coil’s work in their Solstice and Equinox series.

With some editions of the EP there is a bonus disc of reworkings by Andrew McKenzie. “The Explanation” is a single track of abstracted drones and utterances from Bloom. It gels together well, I wasn’t sure (considering how strong I thought the original songs were) that such a CD would work but McKenzie dissolved any doubts I had. This disc along with the main EP makes for a very fine piece of work. Bloom marks the beginning of the Neither Speak nor Remain Silent trilogy but if the quality keeps up I hope Fovea Hex keep going beyond this.

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