(Revolutionary Son Records)
Fredo Viola composed this genre-bending masterstroke in 2018, hoping to grow a new noggin for himself. It became a case of songcrafter-turned-soothsayer prepping for a shifting reality, burrowing into the Earthwomb before the crazy came. Recorded in various Hudson Valley locations with contributions by a dozen players, this collection of eclectic electronica has a unique aesthetic for oddballs, outsiders, and aficionados of fearless music. A mischievous xylophone plinks and pierces, a seed hull creaks open like a diminutive Pandora’s box still in check... and we’re swiftly sucked into his mad masquerade. When will we wake, if ever?
Meet the bodacious orchestration of “Pine Birds,” with its unexpected horns, ghostly vocals, and trance-time carny vibe. Surreal “Kick the Sick” whistles and shuffles cartoonishly, its title repeated in the lyrics of minor key-infused “In My Mouth,” with Viola warmly crooning to crumpled gods “with barbs and lashes at the edges stretching open my face.” Is this a concert hall or a wind tunnel, and who is “Edwin Vargas”? The curtain closes on “My Secret Power,” with a familiar ache for a beloved one who’s gone.This organism invokes soothingly spooky, multitracked vocals and a cavalcade of unexpected facets that corral the listener inside Viola’s growing garden. We envision his twisting through weeds and worms, his flashes of flowers and thorns, and an art-for-the-ears mantra that entangles rabbit holes previously tunneled by Brian Wilson, Kate Bush, the Beatles, and other aural pathfinders and outsiders. Pop music made by “unborn psychedelic ghosts” is how Neil Gaiman put it. This seems accurate.