Back in February I posted about the Withered Hand record Heart Heart, which was the first release in a three-single subscription series run by Fence Records, called Chart Ruse. Each of the 7" EPs included in the deal come in a fantastically well designed sleeve, with each one subtly altered for each band, and each consists of four tracks, one of which is a remix (shudder) and one of which is a vinyl only cut. The subscription has now run its course, and having already written about the WH record, I figure it's only fair to give the other two bands a place on these illustrious pages as well. The bands in question are Delifinger and Barbarossa, and I should confess that before signing up for this deal I'd never heard of either band before (well, I'd seen Delifinger open for WH and King Creosote at the start of the year, but was decidedly underwhelmed).
The Delifinger record, much like his live performance, was not quite as good as I'd hoped it would be. All the ingredients seemed to suggest an interesting sonic palette and more than a little creativity, but Matthew Lacey - who's project this is - comes across as far too earnest, and the songs themselves are just too slow. That sounds like a dreadfully obtuse bit of criticism, but there just wasn't enough going on to maintain my interest; if the songs had been faster it might have worked, or if they'd had more, well, hooks they might have been able to sustain the slow pace. As a result, this single might appeal to those of a more morose aspect than myself, but as it stands the Escapes EP is a sincere and laudable effort, but not really my cup of tea.
The Barbarossa contribution covers much the same ground in terms of texture and approach, but where Delifinger doesn't quite deliver, Barbarossa (again, it's all the work of one man; this time it's James Mathé) injects enough variety to keep things interesting. In fact, I think the real difference lies in the confidence of the performers; Butterfly Plague feels much more assured, much more decisive, much more confident. The record is, overall, perhaps a little too delicate for me to find myself really loving it, but it's still good enough for me to pop it on the turntable on a fairly regular basis.
All in all, despite my disparaging remarks, this has been a rewarding series, and while I may have been rather dismissive of some of the music, the fact that it's a unified collection of 7"s that sit nicely together on my shelf - and because it came from Fence - means that I'll most likely find myself returning to it before too long. In the meantime, the next Fence series - this time called Buff Tracks - kicks of imminently, so now I'm waiting eagerly for that to arrive.
Barbarossa - Butterfly Plague [audio //www.eatenbymonsters.com/EbMBlog_mp3s/WitheredHand/Barbarossa_ButterflyPlague.mp3]
Delifinger - Escapes [audio //www.eatenbymonsters.com/EbMBlog_mp3s/WitheredHand/Delifinger_Escapes.mp3]