Monday, 12 December 2011

Fukuyo's Fables Debut EP Is A Quiet Achiever

You could be forgiven for thinking that if you're not a drum and bass or dubstep producer in Wellington you're not going to go very far on the live cicruit.  Almost every night of the week you'll find a venue pumping out the massive beats to the ever increasing masses.  However, for every hard and fast DJ there are about four hard working fledgling bands jamming away and looking to get noticed, and of those four bands, one of them will be great.  Fukuyo's Fables is one such band, and if you haven't heard of them yet, it's only a matter of time. 

The band have been playing together for over a year now but have only recently been making real ripples with the release of their self-titled EP in September, accompanied by a gig at the San Fran Bath House.  What really stands out throughout the record is the overpowering and often complex medley of vocals. In fact it can often be difficult to determine what exactly is breathy vocal and what is instrumental accompaniment, the two blend so well. 

The first track, Buildings, begins by evoking a wistful reminiscence of love on a seemingly chilly Winter's day. The timbering acoustic and vocals shiver through the beginning of the track, before being trodden on by a thumping folky percussive shuffle, then calming back down to finish as it started.  Drag 'Em is a rollercoaster of tempo, with an upbeat ditty descending into a lounging folk number, and back and forth again effortlessly. The juxtaposition of these two styles is hard to pull off, and can often seem jarring. But the journey this song takes you on is much deeper than the intro would first suggest.  My Oh is a small but perfectly formed package of heart-warming if bitter-sweet delight. 

Coffee Shaped Treat fully embraces the altogether darker and more moody atmosphere that up until this point had only been hinted at.  Ethereal vocal harmonies usher in Scott Maynard's forlorn ballad, and return to back him up as his vehement sighs overlay the frantic guitar and drums.  Coffee Shaped Treat is a tailor-made jamming beauty that gives the band the freedom to explore as much or as little of it as they want.  It's the kind of song you could see being either wrapped up at a gig in four minutes, or drawn out and played with as an eight or nine minute epic of acoustic despair and harmony.

No Such Thing As A Green Eyed Fox, not content with merely being a fantastic track title, rounds out the EP as an example of just how proficient the band are at their harmonic couplings. The band come together gloriously on this track, with Jeremy Hunter's skilful guitar, along with Maynard's lilting vocals, taking the lead and proving that The Phoenix Foundation don't have the monopoly on alt-folk in New Zealand.  The track ends on a laid back and sombre jam that leaves you full, but aching for more.

Fukuyo's Fables have stated their appreciation of Fleet Foxes, and they've already covered Bon Iver's Woods in their live shows, so it's plain to see where their influence lies.  But this is not to say that the band has merely tried to sound like those who inspire them. There is very definitely a stamp of individuality at work here, with Maynard's distinctly Kiwi vocals at the heart of it. At times fragile almost to the point of breaking, at other times warm and comforting, he leads the rest of the band in superb vocal harmonies and polished acoustics that soar above their humble station.  This is a band that, whatever inevitable success may come their way in the future, seem content with their very strong musical formula.  The quiet brilliance of their songs comes from their modesty, and when you listen to the EP, you in turn are likely to be quietly blown away.

Listen to (and buy!) Fuyuko's Fables' EP HERE.

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