Felix Blume - Fog Horns [Discrepant - 2019]
Felix Blume is a French sound artist who uses field recordings as the main basis for his sound. Felix is a certainly a very busy artists, arranging numerous interesting installations and participating in a large number of international festivals. Though his discography is fairly sparse, beginning in 2014, it takes in one EP, one Split EP, one mini-album and two full-length albums.
In 2019, the English experimental label Discrepant released Felix Blume's second full-length album Fog Horns. It is worth noting that the first full-length album Death In Haiti - Funeral Brass Band & Sounds Of Port Au Prince was also released on Discrepant Records a year earlier. Fog Horns was released as a vinyl LP and digitally- both of these options are available for order on the website and the Bandcamp page of the label. At the time of writing, only three copies of LP edition remain.
The cover is a minimal photo of an almost total white haze. In dense fog, we can distinguish between the surface of the water and the obscure grey contours of a distant ship. On the left, on the blurry horizon line, the name of the album is written in simple light grey font. The name of the artist on the cover is not indicated. Despite the minimalism - the cover perfectly conveys the mood of the album and has a rather deep atmosphere, which I would call alarming and at the same time cozy.
The album, with a total duration of just over thirty-three minutes, consists of four tracks. The first track is called "Fog Horns" and lasts a little over eighteen minutes. This is the longest track on the album. It takes the whole A-side of the LP. The piece is made up of mainly untouched field recordings of ship foghorns captured in & around the Greek port of Piraeus, near Athens. This is an almost continuous humming stream of sounds of horns of different tonality, duration, and intensity. Sometimes the sounds of ship bells and muffled human voices can be heard too. Apparently it was record during a concert of foghorns. An uninformed listener may not even realize that he is listening to the sounds of the ships. This is more like a rich Drone track with a classic raw sound. The track reminded me of the legendary work of Arseny Avraamov - "Symphony of factory sirens"- this "symphony" was performed with the help of factory horns, guns, cannons, sirens and so on. However, unlike "Symphony of factory sirens", "Fog Horns" doesn't seem to have a clear compositional structure.
The second, third and fourth tracks occupy B-side. According to the official description, these tracks are a kind of "movements" of the first track. That is, as I understand it, the basis for these tracks was the original track of field recordings. These tracks are called "Horns in Fog pt1, pt2 and pt3". Each of them lasts a little less or a little more than five minutes. In essence, this is the classic Drone, with a touches of Dark Ambient. Various humming tones are intertwined and form either dissonant or completely melodic structures. I would compare these tracks with the work of the genius artist Eliane Radigue. However, when the emphasis is on low frequencies, a comparison with Lustmord comes to mind.
This album left a contradictory impression on me. I was interested to hear very high-quality field recordings of the Fog Horns concert. There is certainly atmosphere, depth, and mood to these- though the first track felt to long to me. Also, I found the sounds of several horns were too annoying and harsh for me. The second half of the album, consisting of three tracks, are more like studio recordings. So, as a result I felt the album was divided into two completely different parts. Despite the interesting concept, the album seemed to be somewhat incomplete and lacking integrity- feeling more like a split from two different artists, instead of a wholly focused album. However, one must pay tribute to the hard work and creativity of Felix Blume....and while Fog Horns felt an unbalanced release to me, I'd certainly be interesting hear more of his future work.