• Julian Fane - Special Forces

    Reviewed by Tom Meluch (atmsphr.org)

    Julian Fane - Special Forces

    It appears that prodigious one-man indie acts are the new thing these days – we have the tongue-in-cheek theatrics of Patrick Wolf, the primal cries of Panda Bear, and now the sweeping ballads of Julian Fane. The 21 year-old Canadian has crafted a strong debut with Special Forces, primarily riding strains of Thom Yorke-esque vocals and highly cinematic arrangements. The whole record, as its wintry cover image suggests, exists under a veil of frost; the first ‘proper’ song, “Safety Man”, drifts by with a reverberated drumline and lilting choir as marble-mouthed Fane intones a chilling vocal line. A common theme elsewhere is the appropriation of seemingly natural sounds in a rhythmic context, like the beat of the gorgeous “Book Repository”, which sounds like cut-up water splashes and log splitting under whistling wind gusts and bird chirps; an enveloping experience, for sure, and one which has a high potential for visual complements. To me, Special Forces is an odd divergence for the always surprising and superlative Planet Mu imprint, but its underlying rhythmic sensibility and innovative spirit have just enough in common with the rest of their roster to make it a wholly logical addition. Furthermore, this seems like the kind of record that might ‘break’ the British label into the US market, as Fane’s style is contemporaneously faithful to many facets of the American indie music scene; there are the facile Radiohead comparisons, the moody shifts and epic narrative feel, and the (dare I say) cred attained by association that make it a potentially easy name to toss around. Apart from all that, though, it has several completely stunning moments (i.e. the whole of “Taoist Blockade”) that counter any and all accusations of solely hype-based notoriety. Lo, this one speaks for itself, displaying a relevant new voice whose best work, which could be utterly regal, lies ahead.

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