Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Caught in a Haze:

The debut album from this Phoenix-based project pulls the listener into a fog of sentiment, heart and thought. Things get hazy, and depending on taste, things get good.
Caught in a Haze
Foxchildren's 'Only One Soul' / Album Review
September 5
by Chris Homa
Caught in a Haze
Foxchildren's 'Only One Soul Knew All My Secrets' / Album Review
Self-released Aug.30
Words By Chris Homa
There’s a dust storm surging outside my window, but with all sights and no sound it’s actually kind of peaceful. The haze covers everything and softens all the edges. The horizon disappears but the space still feels expansive, and we’re all floating through it. This is how Foxchildren sounds.

Only One Soul Knew All My Secrets is the debut album by Foxchildren, the solo effort of Phoenix’s own Victor Enrique Perez. The musician strums songs of love, pain, hardship and relationships, with lyrics ambiguous enough to fit the album’s cloudy production. Most songs feature only electric guitar and vocals, and most songs are static – each track finds a progression, sticks with it for five or six minutes, and rolls out as gradually as it rolled in. The style, when coupled with Perez’ flowing compositions, creates as much an atmosphere as a tune.

The record, sans the demos, is bookended by two art tracks. More sound collage than song, both “Joel Barish” and “Clementine Krucynski” run for five minutes each and are made up of fragmented voices, laughter, and maybe a scream or two. Guitar floats in and out to blanket the tracks. There are few traditional musical elements, but these are bookends and function as such, moving the listener into and out of the space.

“She” is the first true track of the album, meaning it takes the extreme nature of the bookends and boils it down to song form, as does the rest of Only One Soul. Victor’s voice comes in clear and crisp, while two electric guitars accompany him – one creates the haze, the other cuts through it. It should be noted that haze does not equate with distortion. Rather, Foxchildren has a sound more in line with clouds above than dust below. For the most part it’s light, but not always.

Maybe the best song on the record, “Deceive the Lion” has the same rolling sound as “She”, but differs in power and passion. The first half builds from pensive to assertive, and then the music breaks: “I didn’t miss you when you died.” The tumbling and drawn-out oh’s accentuate the chorus that consumes the rest of the song, until reaching an apex where guitar falls back and vocals again take hold. It is by far the most climactic song and one of the most passionate, and for that it is a highlight of the album.

Only One Soul contains two covers, one originally by Stellaluna and the other Devendra Banhart. Both were well-chosen, as their repetitive structures mesh perfectly with the other songs on the record. The short running time of Stellaluna’s “How is Your Heart?” also contrasts well with its six-minute neighbors. On the other hand, Foxchildren does very little with Banhart’s “Autumn’s Child”, and though a good performance, it in no way replaces the original as definitive. It works within the album, but not so much outside of it.

There are two demos set apart from the rest of the track list, and for good reason. First, without the hazy production heard on the rest of the album they would be disruptive anywhere else, and second, they’re both good enough to still be on the album. “Things We Lost in the Fire” is especially warranted a spot. The “Deceive the Lion” demo is fine, but “Things” is great. Foxchildren’s normal formula of two guitars, one chugging and the other accenting, is present alongside a single-note piano accompaniment and Perez’ impassioned voice. Although the specific style of Only One Soul succeeds in what it tries to do, Perez would certainly be just as successful were he to focus on the rawer sound heard in “Things”.

The album has another standout track in “Pathologia”, and no real low point. However, that doesn’t mean the record is perfect. Some may argue that song durations are too long, that songs are too repetitive, or that the record is much too melancholic to merit a listen. The foggy, pondering style of the songs is very much a double-sided coin: some will find peace and thought in Only One Soul, while others may find rambling and stretched sentiment. Whatever the case, Foxchildren’s debut is a cohesive, well-made record. And while it may not work for everyone, for those comfortable in a haze and needing a place to think, Only One Soul Knew All My Secrets will substitute for the beauty of a dust storm anytime.

By the way, did I mention it's free?

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Support your local music scene! Check out Foxchildren's debut on Bandcamp. No, you don't have to pay for it, but it'd be nice if you would.

Also, contact Victor through Bandcamp or Facebook and he can set you up with a hard copy.
Posted on September 5, 2012


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