Elintseeker: Gerwalk Modes

Though it's not without flaws (dated album graphics, for one), Gerwalk Modes is nonetheless a credible follow-up to Fuzz Lee's 2015 Elintseeker opus Geography of the Heart. Lee's characterized the new set as an “accident album” for the fact that though the base material for the project involved random ideas intended to be used for a live performance art and sculpture event, none of the material ended up being used for its intended purpose. The Singapore-based artist thereafter created the forty-eight-minute release by shaping improvised guitar loops, phrases, and drones into eleven atmospheric settings. With a large number of guest musicians taking part, the project implicitly revels in the spirit of communal music-making, even if Lee, credited with guitars (acoustic and electric), lyre, electronics, synthesizer, and vocals, is perfectly capable of operating as your prototypical one-man band.

The opening “Vermillion Team” exemplifies the album's most appealing dimension, its focus on luscious soundscapes woven from electric guitar and synthesizer textures, the latter provided by Mark Kuykendall (The New Honey Shade). As appealing is the slow-motion dreamscape “Saras's Island,” which pairs reverberant guitar washes and tremolo effects with flute entrancement by Stelios Romaliadis (Lüüp). In both cases, Lee's beguiling meditations are so serenading, they verge on New Age, but in no way objectionably. An electronica dimension emerges within other songs, “Living In City 7” a case in point, with Daisuke Tanabe contributing programming to warmly melodic material rich in synthesizer textures.

One of the two tracks featuring lead vocals, “Nome” suggests Lee might be better to focus exclusively on instrumentals or perhaps use someone with a better set of pipes; the backing vocals by Ferri aka Rena Morizono are fine, by the way, though they don't wholly compensate for the weak lead. “The Megaroad Song,” on the other hand, is much more effective, perhaps because the song's fuzz-smeared, shoegaze ballad style suits his vocally delivery better and because the song itself is so melodically endearing.

Still, the album's most satisfying settings are the instrumentals, whether it be the peaceful, guitars-heavy reverie “Riviera Resort,” featuring Alexius Cai (Piblokto) on acoustic and Jason Shanley (Cinchel) on electric, or “Send Out the Cat's Eye,” which augments synthesizer washes with blues-flavoured electric guitar musings by Lee. Without question, the inclusion of lead vocals does add variety to what would otherwise be an all-instrumental affair, but including them can have an adverse effect when the singing's sub-par, as it is in at least one case here.

October 2017