Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Well, Who Tells You To Work? The Devil!

Download: Fog - "We Will Have Vanished"
Download: Fog - "Your Beef Is Mine"

Ditherer (Lex Records, 2007)
Grade: B+

Well, who tells you to work?
The Devil
Who tells you when you get a day off?
The Devil
And who gives you your pay?
The damn Devil
And who takes it away?
The Devil

Even if Fog's first record as a full-fledged trio, Ditherer, didn't contain that gem of a NSFW lyric (delivered with a awesome Dylan-esque sneer, to boot), there would be still be plenty here to recommend. Ditherer is more or less divided by halves, with the first half of the record containing densely melodic and carefully layered guitar-driven uptempo songs, whereas the second is more introspective and piano-based. Because of the way the album is sequenced, Ditherer stumbles a bit, losing crucial momentum. However, as an introduction for their new direction Fog have created for themselves more than enough solid ground on which to stand.

Right off the band, Fog let you know that they are branching out and trying new sounds, with "We Will Have Vanished" introducing whirring wah-wah guitar, thundering percussion and rich harmonies into Fog's sonic palette. A lot of the enjoyment in listening to Ditherer comes from hearing how expansive Fog can make their sound. Based on the next few tracks, which are driven by rhythmically tight stop-starts redolent of Fugazi, it would be clear that Fog's sound can be expanded by a great degree.

While Fog make strong strides in that arena, their songcraft itself could use a little more variety. For all of the progress made toward sonic innovation, the songs themselves tend to be more traditionally structured, save for a few examples like the 10-minute epic "On The Gallows". This approach isn't really a problem until the songs after "You Did What You Thought". The more contemplative material isn't quite dead-on-arrival, but it doesn't inspire quite in the same way as the earlier songs do.

That said, Ditherer makes a highly convincing case that Fog, as a trio, have a bright future ahead of them, so long as continue to keep the mood loose and the tempo up.

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(Jonathan Graef)

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