Monday, 10 December 2012

DC Fontana - Pentagram Man

DC Fontana return with a brand new maxi EP (or mini LP?) New songs, new singer, new sounds!

A little over a year ago I had the reviewed DC Fontana's previous release La Contessa, an accomplished, kitschy take on freakbeat, ye-ye, and R&B-tinged '60s pop. As fine as that LP was, it was still something of a revelation to hear
the latest offering. Gone is the foreign language pop, along with vocalists Karla Milton and Kicca Andriollo. In their place comes new vocalist Louise Turner, and five new songs that show the band in fresh light. They can still knock out great catchy pop tunes but there's also some pleasingly diverse tangents as the band flirt with folk, jazz, prog and even ambient, experimental music. A shorter record than La Contessa it may be, but it packs as big a punch.

The new recordings are topped and tailed by two versions of the title track Pentagram Man, firstly featuring new vocalist Louise Turner, latterly with vocals from ex-Sorrows vocalist Don Fardon. Whichever version you choose it's an irresistible piece of music beginning with sampled dialogue I'm guessing is Aleister Crowley before the music kicks in – heavy organ, biting lead guitar, rolling baggy beat with nifty bass lines holding it all together. With the chorus' chord sequence borrowed from Sympathy For The Devil, the Fontanas still have a foot in the retro camp but they've steered away from total homage towards something that's more their own.

It's this new found confidence that's all over the EP. Following song DevilAngel is a pop soul classic, the band re-inventing Spector's wall-of-sound over a Tamla beat. What Would It Take? Sees them venture into finger-picked acoustic loveliness, though there's still room for sonic invention – listen closely and you'll hear some backwards guitars, an accordian, along with a Bryter Layter style flute solo.

Keyboardist Scott Riley takes over the lead vocal duties on Satisfied (Part One) for a more bluesy, jazzy vibe. There's more of a band feel to this song, at times sparsely backed they feel their way through it letting the song's own dynamic push the playing as it progresses. It's easy to see why this is a live favourite. It's on the next track where the biggest sonic leaps have been made. Sighed DC is a lengthy experimental sound collage that wouldn't have been out of place on Screamadelica. Dubby, trippy, ambient and atmospheric. Perfect for watching the sunrise after having stayed up all night. It would be nice to think DC Fontana might explore their experimental side more in the future if the results are as good as this.

All tracks are produced by long time Julian Cope associate, Donald Ross Skinner. (Bizarrely I once gave him and the group Prolapse a lift to a gig in Bristol but that's a story I'll save for another time.) As always the band have made a great film to accompany their music, do yourself a favour and click over the jump to check it out.

Click here for DC Fontana's website.