Dusted Reviews

Fred Frith - Gravity

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Fred Frith

Album: Gravity

Label: ReR Megacorp

Review date: Aug. 1, 2002

Originally released in 1980 as a move away from the excessive structure of his group Henry Cow, in some ways this album's thirteen songs take on the feel of a cartoon come to life. The mood ranges from playful to suspenseful, but overall this is the fun sound of musical freedom—party music, if you will.

Guitar, bass, and drums are augmented by violin, accordion, piano, mandolin, sax and clarinet, as well as field recordings, clappings, and "whirling." The album is somewhat divided into two halves, with slightly different personnel aiding and abetting Frith. The players include Hans Bruniusson and Paul Sears on drums; Billy Swann on bass; Dave Newhouse and Marc Hollander on sax; Lars Hollmer on piano, organ, and accordion; and Eino Haapala assisting with guitars. Frith himself plays a wide variety of instruments on these songs.

The breadth of sounds and styles on Gravity makes this album fairly hard to summarize in review format. From the summertime jazziness of "spring any day now" to the rather Residents-esque "dancing in the street/my enemy is a bad man", it's all in good fun. But not surprisingly, there's some serious musicianship on display as well. Odd time signatures and general polyrhythmic sensibilities abound, but the important thing is that the group doesn't generally let technical ability get in the way of a good song.

Along the way, the listener is treated to musical hybridization that rewards the eclectic ear. Latin percussion, calypso festivity, eastern-tinged percussion, Klezmer-like celebration, Gypsy fiddling, and more — it’s all here. But I wouldn't want to give the impression that it feels like the group is simply borrowing; far from it. The use of these disparate elements seems carefully chosen, and it all adds up to real songs that have something to say. Changes in feel and style happen at the drop of a hat, but when they do it's for a reason.

I must admit that I came to this album expecting it to be more self-consciously improvisational and technically challenging; instead I found a collection of intriguing songs reflecting a wide range of influences and inspiration, and communicating a clear feeling of enjoyment that effortlessly transfers to the listener, just as it should.

By Mason Jones

Other Reviews of Fred Frith


Read More

View all articles by Mason Jones

Find out more about ReR Megacorp

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.