What it all boils down to is too much brain and not enough behind. The "behind" -- the groove -- made the occasional appearance on Fontanelle's debut to help make it one of the more notable jazz-suffused indie rock records of 2000. When the record appeared to rely a little too much on aimless noodling, it buoyed itself with rhythm to make it more than just an academic exercise in mixing jazz fusion with post-rock. F., which was apparently recorded around the same time as the self-titled debut (spanning three years), has more of an improvisational slant. Fontanelle sounds like a number of improvisational sketches whittled down and patched together (fat-free); F., on the other hand, sounds like a number of improvisational sketches without someone present to blow the whistle and tell the group to try something else (more fat than meat). Various members of the group are experienced with IDM, drone, and flat-out noise (and there's the old tie to dream pop, which is hardly a touchstone), and none of these fields truly win out in any of the songs. A keyboard squiggle here and a somber interlude there are pleasant enough, but not enough to qualify as something you'd put on the turntable and get truly excited about. If you're up for a challenging listen, have at it. Don't be surprised if the challenge involves a struggle between what meanders and what dangles in suspension.
by Andy Kellman