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CD Review: Geoffrey Brady – Fob

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What is Fob? The name of the cat wearing a necktie pictured on the cover of this CD? (No, his name is Puck.) Let’s try the dictionary…

fob
TRANSITIVE VERB:
Inflected forms:fobbed, fob·bing, fobs
Archaic To cheat or deceive (another).

You won’t feel cheated or deceived my Mr. Brady (or Puck) as you listen to Fob, though. Instead, you will be captivated by this remarkably elusive, mercurial, and enigmatic musical personality.

Geoffrey Brady has performed in many varied groups over the years: from the manic klezmer-punk band Yid Vicious, to the laundromat-touring prog-rock/jazz collective Yammer, to the hedonistic sonic terrorists The Disposable Art Ensemble, to the (apparently) straight-laced Madison Symphony Orchestra. Fob, however, affords us a rare opportunity to hear Mr. Brady solo — and I mean completely solo: he composed all of the music and even plays all of the instruments.

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Those instruments include keyboards, theremin, and drumset, but it’s Geoffrey’s vibraphone playing that impresses most and takes center stage here. While the vibes can sound tinny and bland in less skilled hands, Geoffrey coaxes rich, shimmering, expressive, and complex tones from his instrument – whether in dreamy, mysterious meditations such as “Dollars to Doinas” and “Re-Designed for Further Suffering” or playing restless, angular tunes like “Fly, Giant Robot, Fly!” and the title track (of sorts), “Fob, Fobbing, Fobbed.” It goes without saying that Mr. Brady at the vibraphone is clearly a major force to be reckoned with.

Brady’s compositional style seems to have absorbed influences as diverse as Varese, Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Led Zeppelin, yet he establishes an original voice while seamlessly alternating between “written out” and improvisational passages so well that you often can’t distinguish between the two.

Geoffrey’s theremin playing is on display in “Blaze On, Idiot Sun, Blaze On!”, which erupts in a torrent of distortion and agony before fading into oblivion… somehow I don’t think we’ll be hearing a “Hymn to the Sun” from Geoffrey anytime soon!

The biggest surprise on the CD, and a welcome one, is the keyboard and theremin dominated track, “Amaze at the Plant Hypnotist” – a grotesque carnival waltz that winds through a tortured harmonic labyrinth toward its inevitable apocalyptic conclusion. This deliciously twisted Residents-like detour is the perfect soundtrack to your worst circus and/or clown nightmare (and who doesn’t have at least one of those?)

The keyboards return one last time for the album’s closing tune, “She Who Would Lie on a Bed of Crumbs,” which somehow evokes both Rick Wakeman and Maurice Ravel. It’s a fittingly regal postlude to this engrossing experience known as Fob.

Whatever the word actually means… Get Fob! and/or Fobbing! and/or Fobbed!


[ Fob is not yet available from Amazon.com, but can be purchased online from Uvulittle Records.

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