Fessenden - V 1.1
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V 1.1

Working together since 2004, the trio of Fesseden have put out a series of limited-run recordings of improvisational sessions that have found them honing their electro-acoustic sound. V 1.1 is their debut studio release, but it finds them working in familiar territory, with Joshua Convey, Stephen Fiehn, and Steven Hess (who has played with Pan American and others) weaving through forty-five minutes of oft-noisy dronescapes.

Although primary instrument designations make the group look like a fairly standard trio (with bass, guitar, and drums), each person in the group is also responsible for "electronics," and that's where they blow any notion of traditionalism away. Opener "Not Sleeping, Just Resting" hisses with a loop of creepy insect chatter and deep humming drones that sound like filtered gong hits while what sounds like the sample of a child crying keeps drifting into the mix. It sounds like something from a spectral horror film and sets the stage for gloom. "Mid-Swing" brings some repeated percussion in, but as expected it's filtered and damaged, as scraping noises and buzzing drones bump up against it. The ten minute track changes slightly during the second half, as mutated guitar tones try to crawl out of the sludge, but never quite do.

"Diode" is the only track on the release that has some moments that could probably be called "pretty," as flickering electronic tones and a guitar feedback wash eventually blooms into some fractured, but lovely washes as crisp cymbals pitter patter along the entire time. Blowing into more extreme sounds is "Peak V/Z*sin," which after two minutes of silence explodes into Mego-esque sheets of feedback and harsh electronics. Although this is a studio release, the progression of the tracks and the album itself still has an improvised feel that opts for subtle restraint instead of dramatic shifts. Oft-abrasive, V 1.1 is the sort of release that holds the listener at a bit of a distance. It's definitely not for everyone, but adventurous souls needing a bit more glacial concrete in their lives might find some ear-prickling sounds here.

rating: 510
Aaron Coleman 2008-01-24 21:17:23