(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, January 10, 2011

CD review - Foxes In Fiction, Alberto (2010)

Warren Hildebrand uses the Foxes In Fiction name for his solo recording work. Looking at the surface of his story -- solitary home recording studio, the loss of his brother, a breakdown -- the expectation might be for some kind of cathartic noise fest or self indulgent emo venting. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The underlying music on Alberto has a clear pop sensibility, but it's filtered through a hazy layer of echo and tint. The layers of low fi sound and ethereal vocals feed through a thick reverbing fog, creating a patina of nostalgic longing. Underneath this treatment, the music's retro simplicity glimmers like a frosty exhalation on a winter night. The pop song foundations are generally cheerful, with no sense of irony. It's a refreshing listen.

The single, School Night, sounds familiar (download it from Pitchfork). Other indie acts have played with similar elements. Foxes In Fiction's take is rich, though. The slowly unfolding rhythm and thick sound build the kind of sonic fog that each listener can fill with their own images. The layered vocals meld into the wash of sound that permeates the track. There are elements of David Gilmour hiding in here as well.

My favorite track is To Josef, In Texas, which has beautiful ripples of sound and hazy sparkles of guitar. It's hopeful and happy as it builds on a simple repetitive groove. At some level, it's like an optimistic counterpoint to the Velvet Underground's Heroin. It's too short, though, like laying in your warm bed on a cold morning. Another couple of minutes and I'll get up, I promise.

Pour yourself a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and add a couple mint leaves to the glass. Bask in Alberto's rich haze.

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