FCS North - "Vocabulary"
(Luckyhorse Industries 2003, LIDII)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
FCS North (pronounced ďfocus northĒ) plays a spacey, funky horn-free style of jazz that is reminiscent at times of mid-70ís Herbie Hancock with dashes of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, but they spice things up considerably, bringing a modern sheen to their sound with interesting vocal samples, turntable acrobatics, and flippy effects.
Drummer Andy Sellsí percussion is especially outstanding, tight, and creative. Heís not afraid to blend in electronic percussive sounds with acoustic ones, creating some unique approaches, especially in the ever-shifting, complex rhythms of Prince and the machine-like groove of Things Will Change. Chad States emphasizes texture in his keyboard playing, whether itís through cosmic washes and shadings of electronics or dreamy sprinklings of Rhodes electric piano. Joshua Warren provides deeply electric (and electronic) bass lines that range from the mysterious and subtle stylings of the shadowy and hallucinatory album closer, All Thatís Now in Effect to the groovy, Head Hunters-like funk of Seasonal. Mune Yamakawa is the effects man here, bringing a contemporary edge to the proceedings with subtle turntable scratching and trippy sounds that murmur and giggle throughout. While there are no vocals to speak of, voice samples are used intriguingly, sometimes for delicate shades of color, like in the excellent 11:11, and other times, as the basis of the rhythm, like in Things Will Change, which is evocative of a less dance oriented, more jazzy Deep Forest tune.
Iíve used the word subtle several times in this review, and itís a good one. The music of FCS North is never ďin-your-faceĒ or show-offy. While every member plays with exquisite skill, no one musician rises above the others. Their individual voices all blend together into series of smart slices of tasty space jazz. And while Iíve mentioned several influences, again, the word subtle applies. The musicians in FSC North donít wear their influences on their sleeves, instead giving them slight nods as they create their own unique sound. Iím sure that Vocabulary will appeal to fans of those artists mentioned above and other modern creative jazz groups like Mushroom. Quite recommended!
For more information you can visit the Luckyhorse Industries web site at: http://www.luckyhorseindustries.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Luckyhorse Industries; PO Box 18127; Seattle, WA 98118.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald