Deep in the heart of ‘Minds’, the new album from Sydney duo Fabels, is an exotic mysticism and ethereal glow, emanating from the mysterious vocals and the layered sonic landscapes. The result is something that is quite splendid: an electronic classicism that is borderless and transcendent. Fabels are Hiske Weijers, Ben Aylward (plus live, guest performer Tim Powles/The Church) and ‘Minds’ is their third album. Recorded over three years with Icelandic music producer Geir Brillian Gunnarsson, there is something of the wild Icelandic landscapes and magic embedded in the sounds of ‘Minds’.
Weijers sings in a mix of English, French, German and Dutch, with an added made up lyrical language (much the same as Sigur Ros’ Hopelandish language), adding to the allure. Aylward says:
The album creates a reality set in its own time and space, its lyrical content is purposely abstract to blend into the music and to inspire the listener to make up their own meaning. Most songs were recorded with structure while some music and vocal parts were improvised live in the studio. The aim of the album was to create a continuity and world we’re the music can be in it’s own place , originality and exploration high on the list!
Case in point is ‘Shere Khan’ – a meandering, enlightening journey of over eight minutes that ebbs and flows with textures and colours – at one point bleeding distortion and feedback, at other points billowing softly in a dream. Fabels are not a band to put the sound on cruise control: they duck and weave and detour with a blooming creativity.
The exotic air brings to mind fellow Australians Dead Can Dance at some points (and the recent work of Lisa Gerrard from that band) – opening track ‘Open’ is an example with its alien languages and delicately framed architecture. ‘Takko’ has an exotic almost eastern European medieval tone. ‘Picollo’ has hints of the industrial edge and the story telling wanderings of Einstürzende Neubauten.
The single ‘Waiting’ is enigmatic, dreamy and ambient: sparse repeated lines are cloaked in mystery and soaked in reverb and an ethereal aura. There is an icy, chilling air to the track with its distant jangling of guitars and whispered, seductive lines.
The transfixing and celestial beauty of the track brings to mind bands like Sigur Ros and All India Radio where the sonic architecture is central and euphoric.
The immense ‘Hinsaw’ with its insistent ominous bass, haunting synths and whispered double tracked vocals is wild and Arctic as if embedded with the many folkloric mythological creatures of Iceland. Aylward’s spoken word exclamations are theatrical and opaque – because people desire as your head explodes – and Weijers adds passionate phrases and exhortations that melt into melody. At over nine minutes long, ‘Hinsaw’ resonates with a force and atmosphere that is transfixing.
The title track features Weijers’s and Aylward’s glorious vocals that form a velvet layer over the percussive, insistent beat, Weijers punctuating the soundscape with her breathless vocalising. This is a track with a steel spine and a plutonium heart: anthemic and melodic, euphoric.
‘Minds’ is immersive and hypnotic, exotic and alien at times, but filled with brilliant stark mysterious thrum and a stunning vibrancy. Stylistically, it’s impossible to define but has an indelible passion and euphoric glow. File next to Sigur Ros and Dead Can Dance for sure, but recognise that Fabels are their own mythical creature and ‘Minds’ is a pure and unique expression of their creative minds.
‘Minds’ is out now through Qusp and available through the link below or through the usual download/streaming sites.