As a compliment to my full blown article on the recent Resonance Rock Festival in Balham, South London, I shall be penning reviews of EPs and CDs of some of the acts that played at the festival. The first to cross my path is the five piece Psychadelic/Progressive/Experimental act from South East London, the enticingly monikered Fuzzy Nautilus and their debut EP ‘Antenna’.
Much can be said for walking the correct path, never veering off what is designated but, could this be considered just a bit, well, boring? I suppose you could say that, if you don’t take risks then you run little chance of encountering problems, issues or disasters along the way. This way of life will keep you on the straight and narrow but you have little chance of gaining life changing experiences or feeling something euphoric.
I have never been one for following the safe route when it comes to listening to music and, The Resonance Rock Festival gave me an ideal opportunity to look out of the box in a musical sense. One of the first acts to catch my eye was Fuzzy Nautilus, I had already marked them for Progradar attention due to the fact that the drummer, Scott James and the keyboard player cum vocalist, the incredibly effervescent Samuele Mateucci, both play with my band of the year, The Gift. The rest of this young and exciting band is made up of John Keates (bass), Martin Pozo (guitar) and Tom Cundall (guitar).
The band’s bio reads, “The Nautilus is described by Verne as “a masterpiece containing masterpieces.” Currently sleeping in the depths of SE London but soon to be awakened, watch out! At the moment this organic ship is under the control of five mean android forms of life, ready to finally awaken the Fuzzy Nautilus from the depths of the sleep.”
Let’s delve into the EP and see if they have awakened with a jolt!
More like awakened with a nuclear blast!! The intro to Nocturne will make sure you are well and truly roused from any type of slumber you may be enjoying. A keyboard and guitar heavy riff thunders into view before Samuele’s very Bowiesque vocal takes the reins, it is a very expressive voice and drips with intent in a slightly menacing way. The rhythm section add in their little bit of wizardry to a tightly constructed and delivered song that adds psychedelic overtones to an almost theatrical soundtrack. The two guitarists are left to their own devices in the middle of the track and give us a superior jam with some eccentric guitar riffs and a seriously funky, acid jazz inspired solo that is as crazed as it is brilliant. The inventiveness of this genius five piece knows no bounds as they deliver their own interpretation of a smorgasbord of musical influences and leave you slightly bewildered as to what has just knocked you over and picked you back up again.
Dark and dangerous 80’s synth pop is the early impression of I Lost My Keys Somewhere Along the Milky Way. The eerie keys led intro and ominous guitar riff takes you on a procession along with the Gary Numan style vox. A bastard child of Tubeway Army synthesizers matched with Nine Inch Nails grunge guitar and brooding, ominous vocals is what comes to my mind. It chills and excites me at the same time. Then, just to throw you off the scent we have an interlude that is all 70’s prog rock, like Rick Wakeman called by for a five minute chat and decided to improvise some keyboards! Chuck in an off kilter, distorted guitar break and you end up feeling like you’re in the musical equivalent of Salvador Dali’s mind! This is not so much music that is just off the safely trodden path, more like music from another dimension, now where is that wormhole I must have come through?
The final track on the EP, What’s Going On, begins with a nicely harmonised acapella vocal section that brings to mind something that maybe Yes or Transatlantic would deliver, like ‘Leave It’ on 90125. Unexpected but, actually, rather nice, a low bass line and keyboards give way to a suitably funky riff as the track gets into its stride. To these ears, this is most obviously progressive track on the EP, the earnest vocals, chord changes and timing reminiscent of some early Genesis or modern bands like the aforementioned Transatlantic. Samuele’s vocals deliver a more pop oriented sound, take John Lennon and mix him with Neal Morse and you wouldn’t be far off. The musicianship, which was always rather good, goes up a few notches to deliver a song that connects on a lot of levels, keyboards washing over you and guitars delivering killer riffs and burning breaks. The intricate drumming of Scott James binds everything together along with his fellow partner in rhythm crime, bass player John Keates to create a bass that the creative force of the rest of the band can build on. There is a superb instrumental section that just shouts Bond Theme at me, taking influences from ‘Live and Let Die’, it is just superb. Throughout the EP Fuzzy Nautilus give everything of themselves and it all culminates in this 9 minute delight, the keyboard solo winds its way around your mind, not letting go and then the guitars hove into view to deliver another intricate break and coruscating solo that burns with fervour and intensity before the track runs to a satisfying close.
It is always a pleasure to be there at the start of something that is genuinely exciting, groundbreaking and innovative and, in Fuzzy Nautilus, I think that this is the case here. These five guys are supremely confident in their ability and it shines through on this short EP. I would say that, cautiously, if they can get the backing they need and are allowed to develop their obvious talent, we could have future stars on our hands. I await the first, full length album with heady anticipation!