Joshua Treble: Five Points Fincastle

Five Points Fincastle, the second full-length from Cincinnati-based Joshua Treble (aka Tony Boggs), will appeal strongly to fans of Tim Hecker, Oval, and Fennesz. Certainly traces of these artists can be heard but Boggs transcends mere mimicry by conjuring his own distinctive, delicate take on the DSP genre. First of all, the Joshua Treble sound is rarely abrasive, in spite of its many industrial elements. Compared to Fennesz's relentless Live in Japan, for example, Five Points Fincastle is easy listening. Which is not to suggest that it's music lacking integrity or interest as it definitely commands one's attention throughout. On the one hand there are brief pieces like the intro “Airlift,” which teems with flickering noise and voices, and “Department 348,” comprised of guitar glissandos. Then there are tracks that reveal Boggs' influences like “Stranded” whose echoing guitar theme exudes a melancholy reminiscent of Fennesz's Endless Summer, not to mention swirling, crackling clouds and gaseous smears one also associates with his style. Certainly “I Was There For The Last Kiss But Never Saw The Ambulances Leave” suggests that Boggs has been listening to Oval and likely So, Markus Popp's entrancing 2003 collaboration with singer Eriko Toyeda. Boggs appropriates Popp's trademark flutter and adds Jenna Robertson's soft vocals, embedded so deeply in the mix that the words are virtually inaudible. To his credit, Boggs develops the track beyond this derivative opening. A dense mass grows, to which frantic beats are added until the piece settles into a quieter array of interweaving tones. It's the twelve-minute epic “The Distance Between Us In Km,” however, which impresses most of all. It opens with majestic, slowly unfurling waves of shimmer that build anthemically and are eventually overlaid by distorted voices. Skipping patterns emerge until the piece settles into some alien, thrumming variant of techno. Here as elsewhere, Boggs camouflages the episodic changes by blurring the transitions with ambient textures. Ultimately, what most distinguishes Five Points Fincastle is less the hazy majesty of its sound and more its unpredictability. Never once does the music settle into a redundant loop but mutates throughout in captivating manner like some elemental biological organism.

April 2004