THE BLUE FUNZ - Songs For Ed Ricketts
This year I reviewed already two albums by Man Meets Bear, the band of Soren Little Brothers who holds a degree in limnology, which can be described as a marine biologist for lakes. With The Blue Funz, he teams up with two further guys having really strange water related jobs: Alexander Borland is a Scottish whelk hunter, Daniel Potter is a lock keeper from the Thames.
Therefore it shouldnít surprise that their new album Songs For Ed Ricketts is a biographical essay about the too short life of marine biologist Ed Ricketts who, apart from being a groundbreaking ecologist, also left a lasting impression on writer John Steinbeck.
According to the bandís Bandcamp page, Songs For Ed Ricketts is already their thirty-sixth (!!!) album, if I have counted correctly. Usually the band changes its name from album to album (The Blue Funz, FunzMANdan, Gun Metal Grey Funz,...), and while I didnít have the time to preview all of their material, it seems to be that the new record is their most overtly produced yet, even though it is still firmly rooted in lo-fi traditions. Maybe the better sound is due to the record label backing the band. The album is physically released in a limited edition of 100 copies coming with a 24-page watercolour zine.
The music is strange, to say the least. The opener Rock Pool Reflections feels like a rather random tune, beginning with ocean waves before the music joins after one minute, and after another minute itís already over, but then we can count this as a mood setting intro. The following three songs are already quite longer, averaging five minutes, and while there are still lots of water based samples and wind driven chimes filling the background, we get already more structure. Sea Of Cortez feels like a subdued track by Neutral Milk Hotel. There is a lot of banjo, mandolin and/or acoustic guitar, melodica and possibly also violin, so mostly acoustic instruments. The vocals on this track are atmospheric, non-verbal aahís but still feel pleasant enough. Spore Trails continues in the same vein, and while there are now vocals, they are hard to follow without any lyric sheet. Everything feels very dream-like, with a possible stream of consciousness influence. This track even features some electronic parts, in this case fittingly the primitive stylophone which perfectly matches the lo-fi ambiance of the music. Shingle Bum is a melancholic waltz that once again surprises with a crazily unforgettable melody underneath the basic production. Another highlight is the nostalgia driven The Moons Of Mulagi which comes with some very airy yet appealing flute parts.
The Blue Funz admit to being a still rather unknown band, but they have already been sponsored by the likes of Jeffrey Lewis and Phil Elvrum of Mount Eerie, a band that has a similarly strange acoustic take on lo-fi folk music. Songs For Ed Ricketts is very lo-fi, yet still comes with a very fitting production and a whole lot of truly amazing songs. This may not be an album for the ADHD crowd, but anyone in the mood for some mesmerising elegy will be at the right address.