Review: Idiolects by Fotosputnik

A harsh wind is blowing off the lake, cutting straight through your coat. Seems like there’s a Do Not Walk sign at every intersection, but you don’t want to think that this is true because to notice and keep track of something like this would make you obsessive, and you’re not obsessive. Everything is normal. It’s just the colorlessness of it all. The persistent overcastness of it all. Today is like a normal day, except it’s running ten minutes slow (probably a Tuesday). The coin either lands on heads or tails and you take it for granted until you just keep noticing heads and you wonder how long it’s been landing that way; all heads.

The first track, appropriately titled ‘Noctambulants’, on Fotosputnik‘s Idiolects (Static Cult, 2011) is a 88-second guitar drone that forms the perfect sonic gateway into the type of world where everything always lands butter-side up. With its eight tracks clocking in at just under 36.5 minutes, Idiolects is just long enough to make your day weird, but just short enough for you to wish it could get weirder. And it can. You just have to play the album a second time.

Fotosputnik, comprised of musicians Thomas Blackwell, Graham Grochocinski, Jeff Tverdek, and Alex Reeves, is a four-piece sonic experiment cut from the mean streets of Chicago. They describe their music as psychedelic, experimental, and drone, but that’s only if you take it in small doses. Take the whole bottle at once and you might start to understand what Fotosputnik is all about. Think of their music as a manifestation of metaphysical mathematics. Or, phrased differently, Fotosputnik plays reverent, well-executed Krautrock, ditching pretense for veneration.

(This is a song from Fotosputnik’s Translucent Marmomset LP, which is also awesome.)

Recording on Idiolects began in Summer 2009 and wasn’t completed until Winter 2011. It was a record two years in the making, and it shows. The songs are woven from a complex web of effects pedals, guitar drones, sparse rhythms, and perfectly-timed retro-disco non-sequitur. It’s train-riding music, and at its best, it’s the kind of music that makes you ask, is a gray afternoon really such a bad thing?

High-points on the album include ‘Turnpike (Death Valley Driver),’ which plays like a westward, 4/4 road trip; ‘Only Answer is Arson,’ which opens with cosmic guitar drone drawn straight from the annals of Stonerdom; and ‘Lunar Module,’ the careful, melancholic conclusion to the album.

If Fotosputnik’s track record is any indication, even if we have to wait another two years for a follow-up to Idiolects, it will undoubtedly be well-worth the wait. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep flipping coins and waiting for the patterns to emerge.

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[Idiolects is currently available for purchase directly from the Fotosputnik website.]

[Also, a free download of their Omega Centuari EP (released 2009)  is available from the Static Cult Label website.]

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