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  Fischerspooner - Odyssey
Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5
by Parker Stephens

Fischerspooner's first album #1 presented the world with an appetizing look into the ultra-hip and gritty realm of electroclash that made them the toast of Manhattan's fad and fashion frenzy elite. However, what the album carried in glam power it lacked in musical depth, apparently more appropriate for lip-synched fashion shows than live performance. However, Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner have set their sights on something more accessible and musically grandiose for their second outing. In a blog entry on Fischerspooner's web site Casey Spooner addresses his fans about the toil of making the new album, he writes "It is definitely one of those crazy times where everything is happening all at once. I roll out of bed freaking out and hugging my [c]omputer like a zombie warrior on an aesthetic conquest." Fischerspooner are digging deep this time around, and you won't be disappointed. The aptly titled Odyssey is an attempt out of restrictive musical labels—something less about style and scene and more about music and transcendence. Just have a quick glance at the album's cover art and you will see an entire spectrum of colorful circles connecting and blending with each other to form a unified whole. This is Odyssey, a sonic trip that smears together the old and the new; a combination of seventies radio-rock and slick New York art pop; Buddhist ideology meets modern rock mentality; high art collides into beat driven danceabilty. This is a record that stems from two men's journey into discovering to each other, themselves, and their aesthetic pursuit. If #1's brilliance shines from its glittery outer-layer, Odyssey illuminates straight from the core.

#1 from Amazon.com The first track and first single on the album, "Just Let Go," bursts into the aural realm with a pulsing percussive energy that sets the musical pace for the album's duration. The listener is introduced to the silky voice of Casey Spooner and the freshly polished roller coaster synth lines of Warren Fischer. Spooner's first words, "Deep in this anatomy, buried", invite the listener to meet them beneath the skin where #1 denied admission. The first song establishes an aesthetic precedent for the rest of the album. The idea of just letting go pleads for the listener to stop trying to squeeze conclusions from reality and to bask in the world's ocean of gray instead. By not forcing life into understandable chunks, by giving up on making sense, we may perhaps achieve happiness—we may find some gold in the gray area.

"Cloud" explores a modern day synth-tale of the Byronic Hero. The song is a half ironic look at themselves as rock stars in the Romantic tradition of artists so consumed by their ideas that they have become an idea themselves, just a cloud. The drum machine taps out an Ice-Ice-Baby-like beat that raises a curious brow until the drums are swallowed by Warren's musical front to create one of the catchiest songs on the entire album.

Floating just behind Cloud is Fischerspooner's second single, "Never Win." A song just as infectiously catchy as its predecessor that deals with the unavoidable tension between a creative duo. Lines like "If I was not me / I would hate me too / Just like you do" are thrown over bouncy guitar riffs and clap-clap dance rhythms. Frustrated words are funneled into the summertime pop flow of the music that produces an undeniably addictive mesh. This is a song that will have folks all over dancing and shaking their fists at the same time shouting, "I don't need to need you!"

"A Kick in the Teeth" is another song that deals with frustration. The beautifully layered voice(s) of Casey Spooner takes the odyssey to its most dramatic and anguished as he half whispers his craving for an inspirational catalyst. But all muses aside, a swift kick in the teeth is what he really wants. As Casey croons out that "It may be the best thing" the familiar swarm of speedy percussion returns in full force to bring some light into a dark place. The song takes a hopeful twist, as if the music swoops in to make contentment out of distress. Many of Fischerspooner's songs develop the idea of creativity being the cause and resolution of inner turmoil. "A Kick in the Teeth" shows how artistry can come directly out of having nothing to say and still be assuredly art. As Samuel Beckett would say, "Nothing to express, together with the obligation to express."

The strange and sonically surreal "Ritz 107" evokes an eerie melancholy that drifts by like an aural dream. The music creates the setting of a hotel room that could easily have been in the Overlook Hotel instead of the Ritz. Gothic Bauhaus undertones and quick violin noises swim around Casey's gently sung lyrics that tell his visitor "I'm not going anywhere, get out of my ear." "Ritz 107," while a short vacation from the surrounding upbeat tempo, demonstrates Fischerspooner's ability to use their music to develop subtlety and an atmospheric quality to accompany their more beat-driven tracks.

"We Need A War" and "Get Confused" both represent lyrical contributions to Fischerspooner from outside sources. David Byrne's lyrics in "Get Confused," which date back to the late 70s, are a perfect match for Odyssey's brush with the psychedelic. However, Susan Sontag's poetic contribution to "We Need a War" feel a bit out of place within the context of this deeply personal and seemingly timeless album. Musically, both songs succeed, but "We Need a War" feels uncomfortable, as if a non-partisan person was given a speech to deliver to an equally confused public.

"Happy" is a song dedicated to Fischerspooner's home, the "fickle beast" New York City. While the song is in reference to a particular place it can be also understood as a comment on all the things in life that have the potential to lift us up and send us hurtling down seconds later. This feeling of always surging between emotional extremes unifies Fischerspooner's Odyssey; by accepting your place as a ball in life's game of pong you can start to have fun with it, hence "Happy." Such a waste, but it feels great.

Fischerspooner's album is a story describing the conscious formation of rock stars. It is a musical opera of the artist caught between ideas and reality; the hybrid invention birthed through the joy of creating art along with the inevitable pains of originality. Very rarely can an album deliver addictive danceablity along with meaningful lyrics sans condescension. The album's ultimate success lies in its ability of mixing its various influences into a delicious soup. The cool and metallic modern rock sensibility is heated with a warm seventies blow dryer. Odyssey is Lord Byron put into a comic book; it's spam mail framed and mounted in the Museum of Modern Art. Fischerspooner is leading the revenge of the synth, if you are interested in knowing where dance and rock music are headed, buy this album now.

At Amazon.com

Odyssey from Amazon.com Odyssey
by Fischerspooner

Tracks:

  1. Just Let Go
  2. Cloud
  3. Never Win
  4. A Kick In The Teeth
  5. Everything To Gain
  6. We Need A War
  7. Get Confused
  8. Wednesday
  9. Happy
  10. Ritz 107
  11. All We Are
  12. O

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