Fenimore's inscrutable debut: James Paul Cooper confounds, dazzles with instrumental outing

どこかで空間と時間の間 :: 我々はすべての落下します, the debut record from Fenimore, the latest project from James Paul Cooper (Conjjjecture), is a spacy instrumental affair with a surprising amount of human presence for an electronic work. The cover art for the record is a fittingly garish, clip-art concoction featuring stars, a hand offering up a palm tree and Japanese text. The title (which translates to Somewhere Between Time and Space, We All Fall Down) and song names are also mostly written in Japanese, leading to a field day with an online translator as well as contributing to the world-building being attempted aurally.

Aside from the unintelligible crooning in “QUASAR :: 六番目 ლ(ಠ_ಠ ლ)” and the effectively buried singing in closer “[愛の痛み.DMG] (-‸ლ),” Somewhere is a vocal-less affair which makes it both easy to get lost in and tough to differentiate between tracks, at least initially. Cooper explains that the album is something like “a score to a movie, that does not yet exist” and while it can be heard this way, I’ve had a different take every time I’ve listened. Sometimes I hear the potential for adding some solid rap verses, sometimes I can imagine it as the perfect backdrop for a soulful, androgynous voice like Anohni or Milosh of Rhye, sometimes I just pay attention to the odd horn tone in “私は、暗い森の中に自分自身を発見しました” and the stuttering haze of “ラリー J ! [OST]” and I don’t need anything more.

There is also a feeling that some of these tracks are a bit more composed while others are the result of messing around with different elements and ending up with some happy accident that just works. A little over halfway through the opening track, a synth starts rising up that compliments every sound that has already been introduced and, even if it was, it doesn’t sound planned. It’s like being lifted up, or clouds breaking and sun shining through, and it sounds totally natural, unintentional and is extremely effective. Additionally, one of the best tracks here, the almost 9-minute “水っぽい月の貞淑なビーム,” has a percussive keyboard tone that sounds off time-wise. As more and more waves of sound and trap snare rolls are added and subtracted, you lose track of how seemingly awkward the playing of this keyboard tone was until it returns to the forefront in the final stretch. Essentially, everything that went on in between was so complimentary, and carried you through as a listener so masterfully, that this potential issue was actually just a piece of the puzzle, albeit a bizarrely shaped one.

Not everything is as immune to critique, though. The drums throughout are not nearly as powerful as they could be, or should be. If this is a conscious decision, I don’t understand it because the kits aren’t cheesy enough to be cheesy and fall just short of matching the sonic levels of the other synths and tones employed. This could simply be a mixing issue but it’s still noticeable. There are also a few tracks that get lost in the tracklisting, perhaps due to the lack of a “look at me” ingredient or just being camouflaged in the general vibe, they just aren’t as recognizable or familiar on repeat listens as some of their neighbors.

I must commend Cooper on attempting to take a different route regarding promotional strategies as well as creating something that is very much built for social network-aided listening (I’m not sure how I, a non-Japanese speaking listener, would otherwise be able to recommend this record to a friend aside from copy/pasting a link).

Somewhere was intended for a later release but was pushed up to last week after the untimely passing of friend and collaborator Evan Joseph Richard. Proceeds from the record will be used to help in compiling Richard’s art into a collection. Cooper had reached out to me initially to see if I had any interest in reviewing the record in conjunction with a show he was playing, the record being released at midnight during the show and the potential review coming out about the same time. It was a creative and ambitious idea. Due to the unfortunate circumstances, he felt it right to release the album early as a tribute to Richard. I hope, that on whatever level, it helps him, and anybody close to the situation, cope with their loss.

Fenimore plays The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, April 21 at 8:00pm with Brightboy. Album and more information available at fenimore.bandcamp.com

Last modified onWednesday, 13 April 2016 09:49