Azalia Snail

Fumarole Rising

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Pictured on the front in tribute to then recently deceased Audrey Hepburn in the exact style of her famous Breakfast at Tiffany's pose, Azalia Snail has some good fun with friends on Fumarole, creating another witty, off-kilter album in the process. Working mostly with drummer/percussionist Andrew Nelson, Azalia merrily blends Beatles-tinged psych, charming, spry indie that avoids being twee for its own sake, and her own intriguing muse. If there's a running theme to Fumarole, it's "try it, there's no reason not to!" Thus resulting in the wordless backing vocals rising in tribute with the trumpet on "Into Yr World" or her shimmering post-punk guitar lines at the heart of "You Belong to You" and "The Deep Fell Need," to name just two examples. Her production work is as striking as her music -- together, it's easily the equal of Kramer's thick, bemusing creations via Bongwater, following its own particular logic. Vocals are buried in the echoing mix or arranged with curious choruses, guitars are emphasized then played down, and odd instrumentation from herself or guests, including kalimba and violin, suddenly comes to the fore. King Missile's John S. Hall takes a vocal turn with her on "Having an Experience," a trippy acoustic psych blues-gone-electric number that remains sweetly tuneful for its first half, at least! Many songs have unexpected endings and starts, unusual codas, or equally surprising beginnings. It's playful and liberating all at once, a good sign, and there's no one dominant mood aside from Azalia's own inspired approach. There's the crumbling space rock vibe of "Please Don't Come (Here)," her voices floating away over trebly feedback before the whole piece settles into a crazed noisefest, or the waltz/folk dance spookiness of "Sour Cherry" to intrigue the ears. Not many albums sound quite like Fumarole Rising, a testament both to Azalia's skills and performance working in perfect sync.

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