Gerry Fitz-Gerald

Mouseproof

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Many odd, uncommercial rock albums were produced in the early '70s, but G.F. Fitz-Gerald's Mouseproof is an odd effort even in that company. It's not so much the music itself that's weird, though it's certainly far outside the rock and pop mainstream, drawing from jazz, classical, avant-garde, and electronic forms as well as more song-oriented rock ones. It's the juxtaposition of different, almost stylistically unrelated songs that's the record's most unusual feature, even if most of them are not the weirdest things to come down the pike when judged individually. In tunes like "April Affair," Fitz-Gerald can recall the more obtuse British folk-rock singer/songwriters, such as Roy Harper, the pleasing textures crossed with jazzy touches and a not-too-easy-to-hum melody. Yet there are also rather comic art rock-ish pieces, somewhat along the lines of what Giles, Giles & Fripp might have been had they become a more forceful rock band, but not quite evolved into the all-out prog rock of King Crimson. There's also droll country-rock ("Country Mouse"), and a pretty folk-jazzy number inspired by the 1970 shootings of Kent State students ("May Four," the most accessible track). Plus there's the bizarre "Ashes of the Empire/The End," which almost sounds like a Frank Zappa-esque inner dialogue/struggle between the most hippy-dippy and bestial elements of the counterculture, a lewd Captain Beefheart-ish growl giving way to an angelic male-female duet intoning "This is my land/This is my home/This is my country/And I want to make love to my lady." (The female voice in that section, incidentally, is original Fairport Convention member Judy Dyble.) The tracks get yet stranger after that. "Under and Over the Waterfall" again recalls the transition between Giles, Giles & Fripp and King Crimson with its tense jazzy rock and flute interplay. "A Movement Lost in Twilight Stone" makes much use of the kind of eerie, echoing guitar/piano pinging heard in the most abstract passages of early Pink Floyd songs. "Political Machine" runs operatic satire through a repetitive, tape-loopy grinder. The lengthy closing "Opal Pyramid Drifting Over Time" cools things out with a repetitive, meditative circular piano riff, over which gentle distorted electric guitar flutters and intermittent drums shuffle, eventually giving way to similar gentle, circular, but more disquieting tones and emissions, and then some ominous choral chanting. To say that this kind of record is not for everyone, even for some hard-bitten psychedelic collectors, is an understatement, since the record never settles into a steady groove or flow, and few of its tracks are conventionally accessible. Still, Fitz-Gerald's work here is skilled, daring, and eclectic, though the parts aren't particularly outstanding or memorable on their own.

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