F/i - "A Question For The Somnambulist"
(Submergence Music 2003, SUB 5006)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
The first full length from space rock veterans F/i album since 1997's Helioscopium has been a long time coming but well worth the wait. Brian Wensing and Grant Richter on guitar and electronics are back, joined Darwin Grosse on drums and electronics, and Richard Franecki has returned to the fold after having left some years ago to form Vocokesh.
There are eight tracks on the CD. The set opens with "Uber-Wizards Of The 88th Meridian", a 14 minute slab of what F/i do best... lengthy rocking space jams. It's a treat having the dual guitars of Wensing and Franecki back, creating a molten metallic sludge core that destroys everything in its path. Things get mightily intense about halfway through when the band is in full swing and the chords are blasting, the solos ripping, and the space electronics soaring. "Hit The Kill Switch, Eugene" is a cool tune with pounding "Shouldn't Do That" styled metal chords, winding and wailing trip guitars, and swirling alien efx. "Keep The Third Eye Open", "No Pepsi In Kabul" and "Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Daisy Cutter" are all valium paced tunes with the trademark F/i jam and electronics forming the foundation and spiraling space efx adding color and intensity while the guitars continue their slow creeping jam. But the music on "Keep The Third Eye Open" is given a psychedelic edge with the addition of a raga sitar sound, though it later mutates into a searing noise-drone. "No Pepsi In Kabul" features more ragas and sitar but has a more overt Indian flavor. "Surgical Procedures On The Ship" is a haunting prog-space keyboard and electronics dominated piece that would be perfect for a sci fi film. Similar proggy keyboards can be heard on the ultra spaced out "Using Enemy Weapons". And finally, "A Question For The Somnambulist" is a nearly 16 minute workout that recalls the glory days of Space Ritual era Hawkwind and spacey Krautrock á la early Amon Düül II and Tangerine Dream. The music is highly atmospheric with a focus on ambience, effects and general freakiness.
In summary, old space rockers never die... they just decide to leave Earth for good and go permanently into space. Nuff said... buy this album.
For more information you can visit the F/i web site at: http://www.sixthstation.com/fi.
A Question For The Somnambulist is distributed by Submergence Music. You can visit their web site at: http://www.motherwest.com/submergence.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz