Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fish - A Feast Of Consequences

This, the brilliant 10th studio album from Fish came out in 2013 and why I haven't written about until now, is a true mystery even to myself. After all, I took "his side" when he departed Marillion and I've followed his career closely since. Hell, yours truly was even a member of his support club, The Company, for a while. But as the saying goes, 'better late than never', right? Despite his enormous talent as a singer, writer and frontman, the gigantic Scotsman has led a somewhat checkered solo career, which is strange. Because if you ask me all his albums range between very good and fantastic. Maybe it stems down to his search for his sound, I really don’t know. However, something did change with the 2001 album, 'Fellini Days' and has continued all the way to this, his most current release. To me, Fish has found a more cinematic approach to his song writing that he's been sticking to and it is working wonders. Using this particular angle brings out so many colours allowing his brilliant song writing to bloom in the most amazing ways.

‘A Feast Of Consequences’ is built up in three parts kind of like a movie and, perhaps it’s sequels. The first part begins with ‘Perfume River’ which is eerie and claustrophobic at first with the music soaring in the background. Almost out of grasp in a stressed out kind of way, the drums are the heartbeat keeping the protagonist of the song in line…until he goes floating down Perfume River as the music picks up in pace. Next up is ‘All Loved Up’, the album’s “proper” rocker, where the band pulls out all the stops. Lyrically, it’s very poignant and up-to-date, dealing with our current media-frenzied state of mind. So many people do anything to be seen with the in-crowd, no matter what. Stripped down and basically acoustic, ‘Blind To The Beautiful’ is a story about loss of faith and the mistreatment of our world. Technology and greed are the new God, allowing our environment to be destroyed without the blink of an eye. What can I say? Here Fish really confirms his greatness as a writer of ballads, real ballads not the soppy kind. Ending the first part of the album is the title track, ‘A Feast Of Consequences’ and it is a true masterpiece, showcasing Fish’s knack of writing spot-on songs about failed relationships. Here he tells the tale of a miserable couple whose reluctance to go separate ways, drags them down even further creating more unwarranted tension between them.

The middle part is a quintet of songs, tied together as one, as a concept if you will. Collectively titled ‘The High Wood’, the five sub-chapters are ‘High Wood’, ‘Crucifix Corner’, ‘The Gathering’, ‘Thistle Valley’ and ‘The Leaving’. This is where the cinematic influence is the strongest. Taking us through the atrocities at The Battle Of The Somme (I assume) during WWI until the fighting is actually over, Fish and Company’s storytelling is so vivid and colourful, and in a frame-by-frame kind of way, that it feels like I’m watching a movie…but my seat is right there in the trenches at Bazentin Ridge. We see soldiers daydreaming about when they left their homes with the promise of glory and valor, only to end up in Hell wishing and hoping to make it home to their loved ones. Suddenly, as grenades explode, we snap out of it and are back in the trenches ducking and diving to stay alive. Finally the war is over and those who survived head home but things are not the same. The soldiers have changed and what they experienced on those battlefields will haunt them forever. The addition of a string quartet to these songs is a stroke of genius. Already dark and sinister, the songs take on a whole different life as the sound of violins, violas and cellos accentuate the horrors of war in a way I didn’t think possible.

‘Other Side Of Me’ is first out in the last, third, part of the album. And it’s a beautiful, reflective song about coming to terms with oneself, past and present and hopefully for the future, as well. Robin Boult plays such a fantastic liberating solo that throws all shackles to the ground broken to pieces. ‘The Great Unravelling’ has the honour to bring this amazing journey to a close. Bringing out a doomed vibe, yet full of contentment about what is to come, the song deals with goodbyes. Whether caused by death, breakups or natural circumstances, there is a finality in the words Fish sings. A great way to close out the best album he has recorded in many years, I can’t cease to be amazed at the well of outstanding material he possesses.

A huge factor in having created this beast of an album, apart from his amazing ways with words, is the team Fish has surrounded himself with. Three of the musicians have recorded and toured with him for many years. Bassist Steve Vantsis has been with Fish since 'Raingods With Zippos' back in 1999 and is an integral part of the creative team. Apart from his instrumental prowess, Steve is a co-writer of 8 of the album's 11 tracks. Foss(Foster) Patterson is another big piece in the puzzle that makes 'A Feast Of Consequences' as fantastic as it is. He played keyboards with Fish from 'Songs From The Mirror'(1993) until departing after 'Sunsets On Empire'(1997). He rejoined the fold for '13th Star'(2007). Just like Vantsis, Foss co-wrote quite a bit, contributing to 4 songs. Guitarist Robin Boult has the longest history with Fish as their friendship and music partnership dates back to 'External Exile'(1991) and he remained with the Scotsman all the way up to 'Raingods With Zippos'(1999). ' A Feast Of Consequences' marks Robin reconnecting with Fish and co-wrote 8 songs as well. Can't forget to mention the long-serving drummer Gavin Griffths. Even though he didn't write anything for the album, his drumming elevates the music and he brings order to the proceedings. And the amazing Elisabeth Troy Antwi is back on backing vocals and vocals. She appeared on 'Raingods With Zippos' to great aplomb and I am so pleased to hear her beautiful voice on a Fish record again. Wonderful, indeed.

Having such a tried and trusted team around him has paid dividends for Fish. The music flows with such ease and elegance with the beautiful, yet sometimes haunting lyrics. While having retained his sound, in want of better words, there is sometimes a harder edge to the music. No, Fish hasn’t gone metal but the band hits harder notes on occasions that I haven’t heard in a Fish composition before. Check out ‘High Wood’ for instance, and marvel at Boult’s Page-like riffing and Gavin Griffiths hits the drums like he intends to pulverize them…all while bringing out stories about heartache and failure. Can’t stress how much I love ‘A Feast Of Consequences’ and how Fish has stepped out of the box, taking chances, while still being him. If this isn’t what makes a great artist, then I don’t know. Regardless, I will keep on playing this work of wonder and marvel at all the fantastic memories this man of Lothian has given me through the years.

As for the cinematic approach, to me the three parts represents before, during and after dramatic changes has occurred in someone’s life. Fish has mixed modern situations with historic events and can be taken as a glimpse at someone looking back on his or her own life. Or the protagonist is looking back at what happened to relatives in order to find a reason or cause for his or her current-day behavior.

Maybe my interpretation of ‘A Feast Of Consequences’ is wrong but what I’ve written above is what this album says to me. Everything is in the eye of the beholder and we see things based on who we are, therefore you dear waverider will see the storyline different. But I can promise you Fish is in fantastic form pouring feelings and emotions like only he can and you will not be disappointed.

- Swedebeast

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...