(Photo Credit - Chris Schanz)
Album Review - Fotoform: Horizons (October 15, 2021)
Keying in on a concept
As mentioned in other reviews, sometimes I can listen once and know. Other albums make me go through it again and again, looking for an element to latch onto. Albums like Godcaster’s Long Haired Locusts have so much going on that I cannot catch it all in one listen. I am overwhelmed, so I go back through to choose one area to focus on. (I’m using this as an example because I have been listening to it a lot lately.) However, in other albums, the changes are minimal. I wait for that something to stand out, and if it doesn’t bite me right away, I have to go back to find an idea or concept to settle on.
After first listen
What keeps Horizons from rising and lifting into space?
Geoffrey cox’s spacey, wandering guitar and Kim House’s floating vocals create an ethereal sound held back only by the drums. There are moments when the guitar reminds me of “One of These Days” from Pink Floyd. Its progressive sound keeps pushing you higher, a bird soaring and diving. I don’t know if it is the wind to the vocals or vice-versa. On the other hand, the drums push time, creating a linear structure. Although people think of the fourth dimension as an abstract notion, it is the heaviest element within the confines of this album.
After a couple of listens
Horizons is like a movie based in the ‘90s about a twenty-some forced to go home. This character is an antihero, in the sense that they are not dynamic. A romantic relationship is possible but never acted on. The dream job is in front of their face, but they cannot see it from their depression. The audience feels moments when change is possible, but it never occurs. Their life could be a romantic comedy or an inspirational journey, but it ends up a tragedy caused by oblivion.
Combining these ideas
From start to finish, Horizons is one mood. There are elements in each song that make it stand out, typically occurring in the intro. Yet when Fotoform hits their stride, they settle into that ethereal feel of the oblivious twenty-some. Saying this, I understand that it may not sound like the best critique. Audiences mostly want dynamic. However, as is with life, an active existence is not always the case. The recording of Horizons started right before the Covid-19 lockdown and resumed a year later. During that time, many lives were static.
That does not mean I think this album is stagnant. Static is unchanging; that cannot or won’t
change. Stagnant is lacking freshness. Fotoform created an album that emulated the times. I said the same thing about Burial, Four Tet, and Thom Yorke’s “Her Revolution” and “His Rope.” Horizons capture the energy of the time. It is moody and unflinching, post-punk at its core.
Final Thought: I expect this review to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Because of its style, Horizons is a polarizing album. While I like changes in style and direction, I can appreciate that it creates an antihero. It challenges what I expect and accept from an album.
Favorite Songs: “Too Late,” “You Set Fire to the Sun,” and “Take”
Rating - 3.75/5 (Because I believe the static mood of this album is intentional)