Farrago Ensemble is a six-piece wonder complete with drums, bass, two guitars and two saxophones. They hail from Austin, TX and have been at it since 2012 led by half-man half-god Derrick Fore – a formidable composer as well as a player. Art & jazz sensibilities are the common denominator of their sound; a sound that ventures off into lands of math-rock, afro-pop, Hollywood theme nods, and even Judas Priest covers. It’s music that demands attention or it’ll just come off as noise on their album The Choir, Invisible.
The bass rumbles on “3 Variations of Vertigo” with suspenseful intonation; it’s an unsettling ride at first with such a full sound coming from all the instruments. One has to respect such an arrangement considering the style of music especially. It’s quirky and jarring, but never unpleasant. Very descript of the feelings that vertigo is associated with – a lurking nausea mixed with intense focus. Lyrics are fodder for Farrago Ensemble; no singer will get in the way of their acidic blend of avant-garde jazz-rock. The track “Footprints” made my day. I loved playing this tune back in my jazz trio days. Their adaption is perfectly hazed and well executed. The sax lays in heavy and almost lazy, but don’t be fooled – the dragging is sexy.
What a sense of urgency on “Barfle.” The spastic flares of sax and guitar ricochet like a BB gun in the hands of the uneducated. That aside, the groove is thick at times and shows off more of this group’s ability to make chaos attractive. “Magic Purple Banana” swings like Mr. PC with the waltzy1-2-3 of “It Don’t Mean A Thing.” And all the while you’re thinking, is this the same band? Generally a light song, but it doesn’t skimp on the vamp. The hats slosh and swish about keeping the time loose and the solos front and center. Let’s just say that hearing on this song makes you feel like you’re listening to drugs. Does that make sense?
In the end, Farrago Ensemble won’t be easily forgotten. Give them a try and you might be surprised. For the musician, it will surely be a treat. It sometimes takes trained ears to really dig and find the meaning behind what to some is just artsy nonsense. But to me, there’s no such thing - my friends. No such thing.
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