AMN Reviews: Fond of Tigers – Uninhabit (2016; Offseason Records)

 

This 7-piece Vancouver-based group occupies a unique point on the avant-rock spectrum. Incorporating post-rock, improv, classical, and even a bit of alternative and hard rock, they power through five idiosyncratic tracks on Uninhabit. Led by Stephen Lyons on guitar and vocals, other members include Morgan McDonald on keyboards, J.P. Carter on trumpet, Dan Gaucher and Skye Brooks on drums, Shanto Acharia on bass and Jesse Zubot on violins and electronics.

Primarily an instrumental release, Lyons’ vocals appear on two pieces, accompanying his raw guitar playing. The presence of the two drummers is not overwhelming, and can easily be missed. Overall, the keyboards have a subtle presence in comparison to the other instruments.

Heartwarmongering No. 4 begins with a tense drum / bass pattern that is joined by trumpet, violin and guitar lines. With a little improv around the edges, this intro eventually morphs in the main theme of the piece – sweeping guitars and horns over a driving rhythm, with occasional “outside” elements. Wonder What We’re Whispering For features half-whispered, half-growled vocals for the first four of its seven minutes, the remainder being a riff-driven piece with staccato violin and horns.

The eight-minute title track explores prog-rock styled instrumental themes, while Cause B begins with speed picking before transforming into free improv over a staggered rhythm. Everything Moves features alt-rock styled vocals over scratchy instrumentation. The latter half is all-out post rock with the group working together to form pounding walls of sound.

One of the curiosities of Uninhabit is how it manages to mix the familiar and the strange. At various points, you might think that you are listening to a mainstream rock album, until the composition takes an angular turn into unstructured territory. While not overly complex, the compositions herein are interesting and compelling.

Fond of Tigers could be placed in the same bucket as a group such as Bent Knee – art rock that straddles a number of styles with ease.  Regardless of categorization, this release is highly recommended.

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