Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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Flaming Swords - Fievel Is Glauque

The second alt album that caught my ears earlier in the week is Flaming Swords by Fievel Is Glauque. It is categorized by the word fusion which I dislike almost as much as alt. Fusion used to be a synthesis of rock and jazz until it became a synthesis of rock and adult easy listening. Now, I’m glad that music exists because it often serves as a gateway drug for other, more interesting things. That does not mean I’m going to listen even though I once did. (See Jeff Lorber Fusion with saxophonist Kenny Gorlick, but I digress.)

This is a great fusion album in the old-fashioned sense. That funky bass with synthesizers, unison runs and driving beat. Then throw in a great vocalist circa Stereolab (complete with French vocals) or Flora Purim from those great Return to Forever albums. This is really great stuff that sits somewhere between RTF and Weather Report stylistically with just a touch of dissonance to keep your attention.

The opening track is a hint of things to come. Some nice instrumental runs in the classic fusion style with staccato vocals quickly inserted. Complete with what sounds like an analog synth. Then the song diverges and heads outside, but at just the right time.

Save The Phenomenon continues in the same spirit. Driving percussion and nice vocals. Lots going on to keep your interest. Nos Embranchments dials it back a bit and adds what sounds like a clarinet, but could be a soprano sax, along with Stereolab vocals. Days of Pleasure is interestingly sunny with distorted guitar thrown in for good measure.

The entire album works. Most songs are no longer than 2-3 minutes, which I find both frustrating and fantastic. Great themes don’t get overplayed, but neither do they get fully developed.

Check out Fievel Is Glauque. Even if you’re not a fusion buff, it’s a fun album.