Review by Mark Anthony Brennan
First there was the idea to cover a Pink Floyd song.
With a female voice.
And a lot of layered fuzz distortion.
And beats from a sampler.
And played at a really, really slow tempo.
That’s how Expanda Fuzz was born.
Not my words but theirs. I couldn’t have explained it any better myself though. Produced by a couple of musicians hailings from Ottawa the music sounds like “a cotton candy jet engine” according to an observer at Calgary’s Sled Island. Hence the band’s first full-length album title.
The tone is set with the opening track “The Ghoul in the Clean White Shirt”. A thumping beat accompanies a menacing drone as the dream pop vocals ooze out sweetly and melodically. The sweetness cannot overcome the edgy guitar, however, and we end up with a female version of the Jesus and Mary Chain.
The guitars are no less fuzzy on the next track “Ghosts and Flowers” but definitely less shrill. The pulsing rhythm is mesmerizing, especially with the line, “Now my visions blurred from acetaminophen/I saw ghosts and I saw flowers at the medic tent/And the machine plugs in and takes me somewhere I’ve never been”. So, yes, we are still talking quite strange. That part doesn’t let up.
Other highlights include the feisty “At War With Summer”, the ’90s influenced “The Last of the Who Heads” and the charming (by their standards) “Got My Spirit Cat”. The duo even like to get experimental, including interesting elements throughout, especially on the intros and outros. Tracks like “Your Sonic Halo” sound like an earthier take on The Knife, with an exotic beat and vocals that are more chanted than sung.
Cotton Candy Jet Engine? Sure, I’ll buy that. Downbeat, fuzzed-out gloom/dream never sounded so good.