It is difficult to overstate the influence of a small set of bands in the 1980s and 1990s spearheaded by Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. Their ability to fuse old-fashioned studio-generated noise with sweet melodies is a strong link in the chain that connects The Velvet Underground to today’s avant-garde.
Too often lumped in with the grunge movement that embraced them, these were true experimentalists. Check out this recent project featuring Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore for a sense of where he’s coming from.
An exciting new album from Jonathan George Fox pulls the two sides of that great period in music – the noise and the melodies – and places them side by side. The album’s notes describe Warmth For Bad Skaters as “an ode to unspoken interactions, constant audio distractions and his former home in North London.”
“Inside Inside Inside Inside” opens the album with the same kind of abrasive white noise that Fox has used so effectively under the stage name Foundling.
“Cohort Or Die” follows suit with richly distorted ambience.
Our first indication that things might head in a different direction comes on track four, “Crab.” A lazy guitar strums, it would seem at first, without direction. In fact, Fox is teeing up the next tune, a piece of pure dream pop called “Maintain.”
Then comes the suitably titled “Slow and Mortal,” featuring an unforgettable vocal by Adriana Nitranska. Think Bettie Serveert in their prime.
For an album with this much range, it seems to come together effortlessly. (Of course, these things never really do.) That’s both a testament to Fox’s vision and his aforementioned predecessors.