Fluttering at the SkyBar
By Andrés Wilson
Disclaimer: Fluttr Effect's music is equal parts dense and sparse, exciting, sophisticated, dynamic, and not intended for those with severe dizziness, a history of mental illness, a closed mind, or heart problems. On the group's first album Trithemis Festiva, Fluttr Effect effortlessly piece together sounds, styles, and instrumentation that quite frankly, shouldn't work together. However, this group not only succeeds in making it work, they also convince their listeners that their sound, sometimes ethereal and frightening, other times outright kitschy, and always infectious is the way music has always been played. Let your ears bear witness to an electric cello doused in effects where you expected a bass, a midi-marimba where you expected a keyboard, and the sound is supported by the uncannily tight, prog-metal riffing of Troy Kidwell's guitar and Jason N. Marchionna on the drums, à la King Crimson or even Norwegian Black Metal thumping away at cerebral rhyhms. The anachronistic cohesion that comes to define their sound takes on a life of its own, harnessing esoteric folk traditions, instrumental inventiveness, and modernity to forge a sound that is wholly inconnu, yet completely welcome.
During their song "Prison", which is based on a description of Iran by one of its reluctant native sons, poet Ahmad Shamlu, the group uses sound to weave a slippery and indolent musical yarn. Guitar chords, overflowing with reverb and plucked reminiscent of Magonia, create a lush soundscape for guitar overdubs, vocal swells, and cello improvisation. The song brings to mind Sheherazade and moonlit camel rides through the desert. The infectious "I Want You Now", antagonizes soft with the imminence of loud and rocks incomparably. The group recently released a video of this song. The unaccompanied cello intro of "Tarantula" is haunting, slithery, and acts as an apt lead-in for the well-crafted rock instrumental with a cartoonishly exact recurring tutti.
Troy Kidwell is the main creative force of the group. After much work in the
film industry, Kidwell came to Boston to work on a project and began living
in an abandoned rug factory with a group of artists in Boston, Pan 9, with
what would become the members of the Tori Amos meets Marcel Marceau outfit
known as the Dresden Dolls. Kidwell said that "his creative juices were
nurtured by the environment of Pan 9", and Fluttr was founded shortly
afterward. Besides some incredibly tasteful guitar playing, Kidwell writes
most of the group's honest, if impressionistic lyrics.
When virtuoso Vessela Stoyanova whacks out the Eastern/Mediterranean modes of her native Bulgaria on the midi-marimba, the timelessness of those foreign sounds overwhelm the listener with an ineffable mirth. Vocalist Kara Trott, who is a descendent of the indigenous Abenaki people and practicing sorceress, invokes her own fair share of spirits and muses on this album, ranging from virtuosic dance diva to all out rock queen, although a certain Gwen from Orange County most often came to mind.
It is impossible for an album to capture the ferocity of a group's live show. To gaze upon the perched eyebrows of an excited listener is what most musicians live for, and the dynamic and often symbiotic relationship between the audience and the group members and the group members and their sound is irrefutable. Akin to all else concerning the band, Fluttr is different from generic rock bands in that they allow themselves, as all good virtuosos should, to spontaneously design their tightly woven performance encapsulating the audience into the rigidly defined structure of each song. Performance art seems to hold a great deal of importance for the group. Although vocalist Kara Trott's demonic interpretation of what I would guess to have been Petroushka was a bit contrived, and may have scared younger audience members, Fluttr had a sincere, warm, and charismatic stage demeanor. There were cameras abound at the SkyBar when they performed, following Trott as she hopped around the stage and into the audience to dance along to the odd-metered instrumental breaks.
were the US winners of the international Emergenza Rock Festival last year
and represented the country in Germany playing along with other finalists
from all over the world. If you get the chance, flutter over to www.fluttr.com
for more info, concert dates, and soundfiles.