SH | This is folk music. That mix of Velvet Underground, Suicide and psychedelia, coming through gospel via The Spacemen 3, needs a ‘trad. arr.’ credit in 2012. There’s a cover of Suicide’s ‘Cheree’, and a further homage called ‘Marty Suicide’. There are vocals by Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500 and Luna, plus Sarah Peacock of Seefeel and Scala, to bring in the post-Nico, Stereolab connotations. The line-up of other collaborators reads like a prospectus for The University of Shoegaze.
If this was supposed to be an image re-defining collaborative album, it doesn’t quite get there, but it isn’t a museum either, far from it. It may be Rugby via Michigan, but Füxa aren’t only continuing a tradition here. Sarah Peacock’s vocal on ‘Our Lips are Sealed’ turns the Fun Boy Three hit into something much edgier. She sounds like Liz Sharp of Ill Ease, a mix of naivete and narcotics. The cover of ‘Cheree’ is then recast in a much more ‘up’ register, although their take on Daniel Johnston’s ‘Some Things Last a Long Time’ is a fairly faithful version, in terms of the innocence and darkness it preserves in one take, and this is probably a working description of the album’s aesthetics.
So let’s talk a little about aesthetics. Füxa’s Randall Nieman was part of Windy & Carl’s early outfit. I nearly got married in church as Windy & Carl filled the space with drifts, or rather my ex-Sophie and I nearly got… it was all arranged… it’s a long story. The point I want to make is that sometimes I wish Füxa would just let it go and do heavy drone like Windy & Carl. Those massive skies, those Caspar David Friedrich ice poles. The millions of trees. Füxa’s modernism is appreciated, but occasionally a modernist might let the flash peel, so that we can glimpse the oil paint of the previous centuries underneath.
But they stay essentially modernist. Their early track, ‘100 White Envelopes’, is a piece of genius, and I know the Boy Moritz is into it too. This is where Füxa really do it for me, and the title track is a kind of equivalent, a drone-soul beauty, which really may become the sound of my summer, or at least a replacement for its non-arrival.
But these instrumentals are pastiches already, they are peeling flash, rather than bolts out of the blue, and this is where the modernist narrative stutters to a halt again, fades into history, and returns me to tradition, to folk music, in any case. Of course, ‘postmodernism’ was lurking here all along, but we don’t want to talk about that now do we. Why? Because there are better ways to get at the processes.
Hegel’s concept ‘aufheben’ means that something is overcome and preserved at the same time. Nothing, Adorno once wrote, can be preserved untransformed, and this is what Füxa are doing here, exploring traditions before simultaneously negating and continuing them. The new-old high-low culture debate continues.