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"Fuzz"

7/10
Fuzz – Fuzz
03 October 2013, 14:30 Written by David Tate
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Much has been said on the prolificacy of the San Francisco Garage scene with particular attention drawn to 26 year old Fuzz leader Ty Segall. Since 2008, the Laguna Beach born Segall has lent his talent to no fewer than 11 albums and numerous other EPs, singles and compilations. Even by the productive standards of his peers, this is an impressive statistic. Of course, this statistic would be meaningless if most or all of these albums were duds or phone ins, but what sets Segall apart is his seemingly Midas touch – not only has he channelled the efficiency of a garage rock Motown, but has somehow replicated their hit rate.

There are traces of this garage influence on this latest release with Ty Segall Band guitarist Charles Mootheart and bassist Roland Casio, particularly on the vocals in ‘The Preacher’ and harmonies on ‘What’s In My Head’, his predilection for the slightly sweeter flower power psych shows through, but those expecting a Slaughterhouse Part 2 should probably realign their expectations. The guitar tones are more frenetic, bordering on schizophrenic, the grooves more punishing and the vocals, both lyrically and in delivery, are several shades darker. These moments of sweetness filter through like small shafts of light in an otherwise pitch black room.

On previous releases Ty has placed himself very much in the spotlight (Ty Segall and White Fence/Mikail Cronin/Band) and it would be fair to say hearing the first pummelling bars of Fuzz’s ‘Fourth Dream’ a few months ago it felt like the focus was still very much on him. In the context of an album, however Mootheart and Casio feel massively integral. The vicious guitar burn through the songs, relegating Segall’s vocals to second billing while the drums and bass become an inseparable rhythm section. Segall certainly shows his drumming prowess, but without the bass thundering away underneath all the cymbal rushes and drum fills, the songs might easily lose their pace – and this is an album that certainly keeps it’s pace. In its 36 minutes the intensity rarely lets up, and when it does, the space is felt as a welcome respite before it’s inevitable return.

Consciously invoking guitar tones and grooves of classic bands like Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer can run risks. After countless bad imitations and pathetically conceived homages, there is a danger of the sound coming across as clichéd, contrived or even dangerously close to parody. But on this album, the influences are acknowledged and respected while still managing to sound original.

That’s not to say this is a faultless record. Sonically, the band very much draw from one palette, with the only real break in the relentless gallop of the rhythm coming towards the end of track six, ‘Loose Sutures’. But it does go a long way towards reaffirming that by surrounding himself with the right musicians, there seems to be no end to the directions Segall could go.

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