November 9, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: The Fun Years | The Echo Nest

The Fun Years at The Echo Nest
Only recently did The Urban Legend hip us to The Fun Years, an electrodrone duo whose music not only maps an overlap between the hypnotic iterations of William Basinski and the quieter elegies of A For Carnation but also serially draws comparisons to Wolfgang Voigt's sublime GAS project. After listening to The Fun Years' gauzy music for several weeks, we were surprised to learn that the now bi-coastal concern -- featuring Cambridge-based turntablist Isaac Sparks and California-based guitarist/laptopper Ben Recht -- had booked a live performance in the offices of a technology start-up operated in part by a former co-worker. And so it was that we found ourselves sitting in an office suite in a corner of Davis Square last night for a pleasant hour-longish set. In a recent interview the band made no pretense about its show being a fiery spectacle, but they did promise that they do their thing loudly. And while the set at The Echo Nest wasn't overly loud, it was very satisfying.

The Fun Years architect its somnolent tracks by gradually sampling live and layering snatches of vinyl and guitar, then manipulating those sounds from spare arcs that crest and fall into washes that undulate and phase. The dynamics can be predictable, but that is somewhat par for the course when working in a musical idiom whose foundation is repetition. Some of the more dramatic moments were a couple minor technical snafus during which entire beds of guitar samples -- painstakingly stacked like so many pillows of wind -- mysteriously vanished from the mix. Mr. Recht ably and affably, ahem, rectified those situations and as a result those tracks suffered little loss of altitude. We aren't so fluent in The Fun Years' music yet to know exactly which compositions we heard, but The Urban Legend reports that the band finished up with "The Surge Is Working" ("Oh yeah, didn't you guys get the memo? Ambient rock is the new protest-folk," the band jokes in this recent interview), the closing track from its most recent collection Baby, It's Cold Inside. That record, the duo's seventh in its five-year career, was released by Barge Recordings July 22. UK-based digital music storefront Boomkat named Baby, It's Cold Inside album of the week during the month of September. The Fun Years graciously offer the opening second track from the record as a free download at its site, and we're reposting it below to save you the trip.

The Fun Years -- "Auto Show Day Of The Dead" -- Baby, It's Cold Inside
[right click and save as]
[buy The Fun Years records from the band right here]

The Fun Years: Internerds | MySpace | Vimeo | Flickr

1 comment:

Ken Urban said...

nice post. what i like about the band's music is how it combines the nostalgia of philip jeck (one of my all time faves) with the best of the shoegaze sound of MBV and its ilk. It was nice to watch Isaac do his thing. Vinyl has such intense memories for me. Seeing the A&M label on the vinyl reminded of records from my childhood which I would fetishize. I also recall my mother telling me how I would ruin all my father's Beatles records by scratching the hell out of them on my FisherPrice record player when I was a toddler, of course, pissing him off since they represent the ultimate in baby boomer nostalgia. Some things don't change.