"When Jen and I moved to Texas multiple people told us not to do it 'because they killed Kennedy.' The JFK assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby etc. - it seems to be to be a metaphor for the start of all the madness around us."
At our day job, we have a small selection of albums that we put on whenever we want to encourage some of the more annoying customers to leave. Houston's Fiskadoro is amply represented in that stack.
Their series of free EPs is not for the faint of heart. There's something about their sound that is deeply unsettling, and their latest release, Dubai, is no exception.
"The EP is about this strange year we find ourselves in," says Richard Kimball. On one hand there's all this paranoia and dread and a continuation of policies of perpetual war. On the other hand you have people like the #occupy (yes, I speak in hashtags now) movement working on a grass-roots level trying to instill radical change worldwide.
The idea of Dubai, this scary, futuristic looking place that lives and dies based on the whims of the oil industry seemed like an appropriate metaphor for all of that. And it relates back to Texas. In the end all of our songs are about Texas.
I guess we just tend to be preoccupied with the dread. But really we just want to make people dance."
Achieving dance-act status is certainly something that Fiskadoro has accomplished, though the eight-minute title track may be an endurance trial for those who aren't used to shaking it to something like the album cut of Sisters of Mercy's "This Corrosion."
The sound of Dubai is much more club-friendly than their previous outings. We sensed a great deal of Chemical Brothers influence in the work, particularly in "Dubai" itself.
Part of the switch has a great deal to do with the evolution of Fiskadoro's tastes towards straight electronica. The band is big fans of Heaven 17, Human League, and Houston's own //TENSE//, and they stage regular techno listening parties. Synth player Kirston Lane Otis has also been a tremendous influence in the changing sound since he joined. Formerly difficult to described, they've now settled comfortably into the genre of techno.
"The best shows we've played are the ones when the audience is dancing to our music as opposed to standing around with their arms crossed analyzing the lyrics wondering what our thoughts are on the death of capitalism," said Kimball.
The three songs that constitute Dubai still delve into the rampant condemnation of plastic America that is their trademark. Under their pulsing rhythms that induce a low-level hypnotic state, Kimball's augmented voice hisses paranoid witticisms that dance on the edge of understandability. For a scant 15 minutes, a listener is drug over the exposed wires of their music. It's an uncomfortable experience, but oddly enlightening at the same time.
Did we mention that it's completely free? Though they haven't ruled out the possibility of charging for their music in the future, as it stands now the entirety of the Fiskadoro catalogue can be download without charge on their BandCamp.
It's taken us almost a week to process Dubai, and we're not sure that we as yet understand it completely. Among the cuts our love is given to its ultimate piece, "Boxing." We've always been big fans of Jennifer Kimball's bass playing.
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Simplistic as it is at times, she still manages to throw an overwhelming amount of personality into her lines. In the slower numbers like "Boxing" is comes across as a sort of reverse time-lapsed version of Kim Deal, with each note serving as a set of booby trapped stepping stones for Kimball and Otis to languidly dance across.
It's also the most sinister of the tracks, with allusions to the Devil and a pace that feels like a prowl. Simply more of that dark-Fiskadoro style that we've come to love.