Fovea Hex is an act that I have grown to love over the last few months. Like everyone writing for Tympanogram and certainly everyone reading this, I try to stay on top of the “next big thing.” Fovea Hex would certainly qualify for that if not for the fact that the focal point of the act, Clodagh Simonds, has been active since the early 70’s.
Simonds has a tremendous voice that can stretch from being lithe to antagonistic in the same note. I suppose she could be likened to an imaginary female version of Captain Beefheart. She also gets bonus points in my mind for being Irish.
Anyway, her life in music began when she started the band Mellow Candle, which would receive reasonable success-in-hindsight. Later (in the early 70’s), she worked on albums with Thin Lizzy and Mike Oldfield. Basically, she fell out of the biz and went on a long hiatus. In 2005, she returned with the Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent trilogy of Bloom, Huge and Allure, which I completely missed. That said, these EPs were fantastic, and each one attracted a huge cast of supporting players.
So Here Is Where We Used To Sing is Fovea Hex’s first full length. I am assuming that anyone following the act has found this album to be worth the wait. Honestly, this album is so good that I wish I had been following Fovea Hex for years, so I could have my socks blown off by it. This is the type of album that creeps up on you. I listened to pieces of it for a few weeks before I found my place in it, highlighting the power of the grenade effect. Last year, the grenade album was Owen Pallett’s Heartland, which blew up in my eyes in the same way.
The scope of Simonds’ voice and talent is expansive enough to attract some of the most eclectic and talented compatriots. Her cast this time includes Brian Eno, Colin Potter, Michael Begg, Laura Sheeran (who provides lead vocals on a few tracks), Kate Ellis, John Contreras, Cora Venus Lunny, Julia Kent, Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo, and Marco Schiavo. Cellos, keyboards and piano dominate the orchestration, but the atmospheric songs are full of interesting sounds and textures. At all times, though, her voice is the glue.
This is a truly fantastic and under-appreciated record. Deeply haunting and entirely sublime, this a gorgeous and compelling record that should be taken as a whole. It took me too long to get into Fovea Hex, but now that I am down for the get down, I can’t wait to see where she goes next. This is an act on the rise.
You can purchase a copy of the record from Janet Records, although their online shop is down until August 2nd. This is definitely worth the brief wait. I recommend going all out for the collectors edition with the Three Beams bonus, including remix work by Michael Begg, Colin Potter and William Basinski.
Fovea Hex – A Hymn To Sulfur (Clodagh Simonds vocals)
Fovea Hex – Falling Things (Where Does A Girl Begin?) (Laura Sheeran vocals)