Tom Hayes 12-November-2006 Impressionable Sounds of the Subsonic

No prizes for guessing this Swedish group’s niche in the music world. FBFOS’ second offering sets them clearly in the Hawkwind mode of spacerock. Normally I think it’s lazy for a reviewer to refer to a band operating in this field as Hawkwind (or Gong) influenced, as really you could say that about most of the groups. But in FBFOS’ case, it’s pretty accurate for much of the album. Not at all to imply they are plagiaristic without an original thought in their collective heads. No, Hawkwind laid out a very flexible grid with their open sound and alien textures. And FBFOS have created their own unique room within this large house. The opener ‘Novaja Zemelja’ represents the time honored tradition of creating an exotic atmosphere (newborn babies crying no less) with ethereal flutes and Eastern textures, only to be bludgeoned by blazing guitars, searing synths and fast tempos. I never get tired of that! And here, like all of the tracks, they have a bass heavy sound – one that drives the rockier sections to new heights. Also, special mention goes to flautist “MoonbeamJosue” who adds a special dimension and is highlighted far more than, say, Jumpin’ John from Ozric Tentacles. “Utan att Veta” is one of a few showcase tracks for Josue, and demonstrates how outstanding the light instrument contrasts in the overall heavy setting. Would like to point out that I prefer the native Swedish as used here to the more common English. I guess all those years of listening to Trettioariga Kriget and Algarnas Tradgard have trained my ears for the beautiful singy-song language. There’s more of a straightforward modernist rock approach to some tracks like ‘Mean Spacemachine’ and the title track, where FBFOS recall LA’s Farflung or the UK group Strobe. Though the latter features more movements with flute, organ and Pink Floyd like sounds. ‘To Be Seen As The Underdog’ is the kind of polarizing acoustic track that Hawkwind would insert amidst the mayhem, akin to ‘We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago’ from “In Search of Space”. From my perspective, the last three tracks are the highlight of an already good album and propels ISotS to excellent status. 13 minute ‘Gröna Händer’ starts this segment with copious flute, wah wah guitar, driving rhythms, otherworldly voices, electronica (and, ja, Swedish vocals!). The 9 minute tribal ‘Todo Pasara’ follows and is yet another flute featured track with organ and great guitar soloing. The atmospheric and trippy ‘Sagarmatha 8848’ closes. At the very end of this piece we get some Hawaiian lounge music to whittle away the final moments in peace. FBFOS are another great band on Record Heaven’s Transubstans label!

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