Fred Frith And Hardy Fox - A Day Hanging Between Heaven And Earth [Klanggalerie - 2018]Here we have a long-lost collab between two of the more distinctive & unique figures from within the wider experimental genre. Fred Frith first became known in the 70ís for his work with celebrated avant-rock collective Henry Cow, before going onto work with the likes of Brian Eno, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and many others. Hardy Fox was one of the key songwriters behind long-running avant-pop collective The Residents- working with the band for 40 plus years, before leaving the project in 2015 due to ill health.
A Day Hanging Dead between Heaven And Earth was started in 1991, and then finally finished-off in 2017. Here on Austrian experimental label Klanggalerie appears the first ever release of the work. It comes in the form of the glossy six-panel digipak, featuring pictures of barbwire fences & plastic bags- as well as a page write-up from Fox about the collaboration.
The total running time of the work is just twenty-five minutes, and this is spread over fourteen tracks- with each of these lasting between just under thirty seconds & nearing four and a half minutes. Five of the tracks feature lyrical input from Firthís song-writing partner Zeina Nasr- though Iím not sure if they do the vocals themselves.
I guess the best way to describe what we have here is a selection of musical cues- that flit between the dramatic & quirky- sonically the sound pallet is a mix of synthetic orchestration, sawing & screaming string work( either by guitar or violin), twanging & off-colour muzak played by organ & guitar, strange often bizarrely theatrical singing/ spoken word parts, and the occasional addition of piano( this was added on in 2017, with the vocal elements). The synthetic orchestration elements sound like they are from the early-to-mid 90ís output from The Residents- bringing to mind their more soundtrack leaning albums of the time. The other elements nicely add an extra layer of strangeness, and otherness to proceedings. Over the full twenty five minute work the pair cover a few fair genres, from off-angular singer-songwriter fare, through to moody yet odd orchestration, onto corny-yet- bent easy listening, creepy piano wonderings, bright & buoyant 90ís PC game like sounding, onto general avant musak.
On the whole, itís certainly an eventful, shifting & often jarring collaboration- and yes you can certainly date the synthetic elements to early to mid 90ís Residents work, but the way itís arranged & added to is quite distinctive from either artists other output. I guess the shortness of the whole thing is a little disappointing, but really I think if it had lasted too much longer the whole thing may have started to be becoming trying.
So in summing up A Day Hanging Dead between Heaven And Earth- Iíd say itís great to finally have & hear it after all these years, and big thumbs up to Klanggalerie for putting it out. Of course, this will appeal to both fans of Frith & Fox's, but I can also see it going well down with those who cherish odd & off-kilter sound tracking that wonders all over the genre map. Roger Batty