Julie Tippetts & Martin Archer - "Tales of FiNiN"
From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)
A double-disc, a lyrical concept... Julie sings, wails, croons throughout, some sort of story that parallels classic anglo-fantasy battle epics. The music an avant-garde folk/jazz with various guest musicians on woods, strings, guitar and percussion, impeccably recorded and mixed. The intro, In Memorium, is "musique-concrete" with tension. The drums of The Battle of FiNiNDENE are programmed with other percussive effects... sounds like bassoon but baritone sax is credited. Archer is the music leader, he plays many instruments, handles most of the horns and does a lot with his laptop. FiNiNbrook Bridge lays down some rhythm with Archer's Rhodes... freaky background effects compliment the piece, Julie continues to moan, sometimes she's overdubbed with herself. The View From FiNiNtor seamlessly works in some jazz sampling. FiNiNsgate - spoken, sung and whispered word from Julie along to warped synth, violin and sound waves. The Other Side contains some pretty sopranino sax playing by Archer to start and then a deep electronic bass-groove kicks in, layered with sampled jazz drums (Art Blakey), some pretty sharp guitar from Chris Sharkey, jazz-croon from Julie hitting some high notes. Lotta layers here. The 13-minute FiNiNscreek Castle closes out disc one: ominous resonating bells ("singing bowls"), dueling squawking saxes and violins have it out, plenty more story-telling from Julie, stop-start free-jazz drumming.
FiNiNsridge kicks off disc 2 with nice sax-playing and interweaving keyboard lines. Some of Julie's rhyming is more whimsical here and later she voices a dialogue as well. Taunts Of the Fallen has a more electronic groove-based soundtrack, nice bass-synth and percussive programming here. Crossing the Line has some almost catchy vocals and a brief but wicked baritone sax lead. There are actually a few more vocal hooks on this second disc. Pulling Back features a heavier fx'd percussive rhythm. Straight-Talking/Elegy is another really busy track, way-cool tripped-out soundscapes and some repeated jazz-vocal lines from Julie, though I have to say that the vocals on this album don't always go very well with the music, so at times one tends to detract from the other. The closer, Atonement/The Way Back, might be my favorite cut of the album. I like the echo-y melodica, low-freq bass-track and various fx... also contains a sample of Ancestral Dub from Mikey Dread, which is also the only non-Julie voice on the album. Much of this album is difficult experimental music even when they use rhythmic elements. I prefer stuff with more groove to it, or stuff where the vocals and instrumentation have more room to breath so as to be more appreciated.
For more information you can visit the Discus label web site at: http://www.discus-music.co.uk
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg