Local Music Reviews
fezmaster = c418 + Colin Stetson
SLC’s electronic scene is horribly underrated. Take, for example, fezmaster and his custom-built computer, nicknamed the “fez5000.” Nothing can quite prepare you for the experience of seeing the artist wheel out his large, colorful synthesizer for a live show.
unfezed is the most recent edition to the already extensive discography from Jon Philpott, aka fezmaster. Ripped straight from cassette to Bandcamp, unfezed brings smooth, synth lo-fi tracks with improvised trombone added on top, creating an atmospheric experience unlike anything else. The drums and samples on each track are all randomly generated by a computer algorithm; not only is the audience unaware of what’s coming next, but fezmaster himself doesn’t know either.
I’m in love with the liminal feel of the album. The cassette fuzz combined with samples of Utah rivers and birds washes over you as you listen, leaving you nostalgic for a time you didn’t experience. “Side A – Sketch 2” combines bird songs and jazz trombone to create a whimsical feeling that’s hard to describe. On “Side A – Sketch 3,” you can hear sounds of wind and river alongside a more standard synth sound. The combination of organic and inorganic noise on this track creates an unforgettable listening experience.
The closing track for Side A, “Side A – Sketch 4,” ends with a more twinkly synth, easing the listener out of the trance-like state that unfezed creates and invites them to flip the cassette. This track feels the least organic, but it perfectly compliments the other songs on the album. Each sketch flows into the next so well that it truly feels like one long composition.
Even if you aren’t into ambient music, this album—and any of fezmaster’s discography, for that matter—is a great jumping-off point into the world of electronica. unfezed captures a deep feeling of nostalgia and whimsy unlike anything else I’ve listened to in a while. If you’re feeling particularly spacey, it’s time to pick up a copy of unfezed.
I also highly recommend picking up some of his cassettes from a local record store to hear the album the way fezmaster intended. For an even more authentic listening experience, catch him performing live with Runestomper and Anode at International Artist Lounge on Oct. 25. unfezed is the perfect choice for anyone looking to get more into the local ambient electronic scene. –Elle Cowley