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Fazzini - Sulphur, Glue the Star

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Artist: Fazzini

Album: Sulphur, Glue the Star

Label: Locust

Review date: May. 19, 2006

I’m always surprised when people mistake Robyn Hitchcock for a strict comedy act. He’s a bit goofy around the edges, maybe, but there’s a critical mass of pointed scorn and resigned melancholy behind his absurdist wordplay.

Like Hitchcock’s stripped-down solo records (most notably I Often Dream Of Trains), Fazzini’s Sulphur, Glue the Star swirls a wide collection of sounds around two soft-spoken focal points: an acoustic guitar and an unmistakably British lead vocal. Owing to the top-shelf production, the flourishes (a thumb piano, a Tibetan bowl, a hair clipper, bubbles) contribute depth rather than clutter. Some tracks (particularly “Duplex,” a disturbingly gorgeous ode to sea life that could be a weird, weird children’s song) are so delicate, intense, and generally un-pop that they border on theatre. But there’s always a song at the center, sung with something between quiet despair and quiet determination.

No one’s going to mistake Tom Fazzini for a strict comedy act, not with the agonized contempt and lacerating confusion at his lyrical heart. “Don’t shag all my friends, will you,” he beseeches someone in the exquisite ballad “Urge.” “’Cause those devils just can’t take it anymore.” This memo’s recipient also fucks the narrator’s enemies, the vicar, and “the people’s poet,” who has “cursed your name in his slim books / That breed upon the shelves in every city / And anyway, he’s lost his looks.” If you get on Fazzini’s bad side, you can expect to at least be shit-talked articulately. Or, as on “Glare,” you can expect it to turn into a hauntingly rendered seaside slap-fight. (Of late, few lyricists have brought charged sex and light cruelty into such beautiful harmony.)

Maybe he is a comedy act, in a broad sense. And comedy is, if nothing else, a broad art.

At 30 minutes, Sulfur, Glue the Star hardly jeopardizes its welcome. It’s one of those records that’s over before it’s quite established itself. It consists of six proper tracks, an instrumental callback to “Urge,” and three skits (or, I guess, “interludes”). On the most resolute of these, David Coxon relates a second-hand account of drug-soaked metaphysicality. It’s reminiscent of “The Air Itself” by Sunburned Hand Of The Man, although it’s a lot easier (that is, possible) to follow. However much stock you place in this sort of shit, it adds to the disc’s fleeting but fastidious creepiness.

By Emerson Dameron

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