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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Fiasco – Anger Artist (Unit Records, 2024)

By Don Phipps

Sonically intense, Fiasco’s Anger Artist is a mix of funk and abstract themes offered up in an unabashed prog rock setting. The result – first rate provocative yet enjoyable music that moves the soul while stretching the imagination.

Take the challenging title cut “Anger Artist,” which explodes virtually at the seams. Dougherty’s opening abstract guitar line exhibits robust vitality before settling into a solid rock rhythm. Combined with Arnold’s muscular bass plunks, Butler’s hard snare strikes, and Frankhouse’s sax rambles, the music climbs and swirls like stirred cream in coffee. As the song progresses, the piece (devolves-evolves) into bizarre electronic war zone effects and Frankhouse generates a dark and foreboding line that sounds like it comes from the unknown reaches of the galaxy.

This intensity is followed by the decidedly sedate “Before Times,” a gorgeous number that reflects a slow-motion landscape – almost as though one is climbing some new mountain trail, the cool wind blowing gently – making skin come to life. Dougherty’s lyrical arc floats like a feather and the effect is reinforced by Frankhouse’s broad legato phrasing.

While the band relies on electronic distortions, this does not hide the beauty of the various album compositions. Instead, it brings it home. One can mosh to the hard rock beat of “Golden Parachute.” Or shake to the prog rock energy of “Drop Test,” as Frankhouse’s fuzzed up sound adds to jarring but exciting music; and later, when combined with Dougherty’s abstractions to create a unified chorus, carries the listener on a fascinating journey to the number’s surprisingly sudden end. And the funky “Content,” with its swooping lines, feels like a bird gliding effortlessly over hard-blowing wind currents.

Finally, the composition “Bleak _ Dark” manages to distill the beauty of this album into a singularity. One can marvel at Dougherty’s gentle picks as Frankhouse’s sweet sax enters above. Then the theme emerges – as guitar and sax play a soaring, broad anthem in unison. As the song continues, a heavy beat emerges that seems to climb upward as Frankhouse’s squeals push the energy along.

There is much to admire in this effort – one might even use the word love. Certainly, a live concert would be of interest – where the artists likely explore their muscular offerings endlessly without time constraints. As it is, Anger Artist is Fiasco’s glorious offering – a wonderful combination of bitter almond and sweet fragrance.