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(38:11, ‘Star FKR’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Blue Siberia 2:58 2. Training Wheels 5:34 3. Karmara 4:33 4. Speedbike 3:37 5. Josie's Porch Swing 3:18 6. Snow Angel 3:28 7. Life in Slow Motion 5:53 8. Chasing the Sun 5:34 9. The Clearing 3:16 LINEUP: Bill Martien – guitars Alissa Taylor – violin Matt Clarke – drums
Prolusion. The US trio STAR FK RADIUM was formed around 2007, at least if the opening year of their MySpace page is an indicator of such matters. In 2009 they became an active live unit, performing in 11 US states, and 2010 saw them embarking on a tour of the US West Coast. "Blue Siberia" is their debut album and was issued just prior to the aforementioned tour in 2010.
Analysis. It's always intriguing to encounter a band which explores a musical landscape that is vastly different from anything you've encountered previously, whether they spread across a vast, eclectic landscape or have narrowed their creative output into a sound of a more marginal and singular nature. The differences with other artists don't have to be vastly different for such an artist to make an impression, nor does it have to be revolutionary or groundbreaking as such. Star FK Radium is to my ears an example of just that, exploring a sound vaguely familiar but where most will have a hard time making any direct comparisons. The instrumentation reveals quite a lot as far as this band goes: guitar, drums and violin. And the main part of their debut album is compositions of a distinctly singular nature, crafted with pretty much the same approach. Wandering acoustic guitars set the premise for the basic melody, whilst a mournful, slower moving violin solo supplements the harmonic nature of the proceedings while also subtly contrasting with the sound and mood of the guitar. While careful non-standard rhythms cater for overall momentum. The most intriguing aspect of their musical palette is the absence of folk music references, the violin taking its cues from classical music, the guitar from acoustic rock, and the drums also have something of a rock music tinge to them, with slight tendencies towards jazz rather than ye olde folkish music. These excursions are pleasant experiences, and should fulfill the needs of most anyone searching for refined but calm melancholic music. While these creations are mostly straightforward, they do explore multiple themes, with alterations in mood, pace and intensity being an ingrained part of their approach. But to my ears it's when this fine trio ventures outside of their main style that they really get interesting. The energetic guitar and drums-only landscape explored in the aptly named Speedbike, a refreshing and jubilant creation and the stronger use of diversity and inclusion of what appears to be flamenco-inspired details on Life in Slow Motion. And last but not least, the refined and elegant construction they have called Chasing the Sun. Whilst opening with a typical theme for this act, exploring the dynamics between guitar and violin, this one soon sets off with an acoustic guitar-driven theme with plenty of alterations in pace and mood, the guitar as well as the supporting drums to a greater extent incorporating folk music-inspired details, with the violin added in for the last minute or so to supplement the main theme and weave patterns of a much different mood to this by now extensively explored theme. It is an inventive and innovative creation that, to my ears, represents what Star FK Radium is about at their best, or most interesting if you like.
Conclusion. Personally I found "Blue Siberia" to be an album just a bit too singular in nature overall to warrant a description as a great production. There are a fair few gems there however, and those who have a general liking for melancholic, mournful acoustic music will most likely regard this disc as something of a treasure trove. In particular if they love the dynamics you get when the acoustic guitar is paired off with the violin.
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