A band who once opened for another one of Argentina’s Prog exports, Bauer, Progressivelyso brings you the band, “Fraktal“. Funny thing about the band’s name too, it’s the same name as my old band I just had kept the letter “C” before the “K” but my band was not as polished as this one is! (See blog on Defunct Canadian band, fracKtal)
This band has left their carbon footprint in the world of Prog and even though they may have not gone too far outside the boundaries of their home country of Argentina they have definitely made an impact in the global world of Prog if only a small one. For the most part a lot of Prog bands do not become globally well known as their UK and German counterparts do unfortunately and there is a lot of great Prog bands out there yet to be discovered and once in a while we do come across bands like Fraktal and can bring them to you here to discover and appreciate what they do for the genre and in hopes to help you build up your Prog Collective for future listening enjoyment!
Bands are becomming more and more aware that Prog songs do not have to be epic 20minute pieces but rather get what needs to be said in less time therefore making way for more songs on the album like this band has done with 13 being their total. “Blind” opens up the record with a soft intro acoustic piece that sways and flows smoothly along with some great tremolo guitar chords that come in and out to accentuate the vocals. This band does the Prog recipe quite well with a mellow song intro as opposed to a heavy hitter to inaugurate the record. The vocals are choral and very hymnal as they journey through the waves of well layered music. Swirling and escaping reality with their softened tones and fluid musicianship this opening track fares well to make for an unknown mood setter to the album. “Chickens and Worms” has to be one of the more unique song titles I have heard in some time and it has an equally unique intro with a distant vocal chant, AM radio crackle and finally a jazz like ensemble of music that saunters down a cobblestone street in some South American town. The song carries a heavy chorus riff to it as it flows and sways through the verses giving us the Jekyll/Hyde feel to it and they pull this off very well as the song gives way to a great strained guitar solo of discordance and pain with pleasure aspect to it as the notes are flung to the sky finishing off the song. “Aneurysm” strikes in fast and has that I must race cars Tokyo Drift feel to it as the band just gets on with it. The vocals are difficult to discern whether they are in English, Spanish or a bit of both depending on the song because of the effects applied to the voice tracks but it’s an added spice to the songs that’s for sure. The band pulls off the tempo/timbre and start/stops effectively here allowing for diversity in the track. The middle section dies down to a crawl which adds another great Prog element to it because it was so heart racing fast in the beginning and now we are in a slower gear here with a chanting vocal over a repeated guitar riff that pulls you in to the song closer only for the bass to start back up with its intense ferocity as the song jumps back in to the high speed chase tone. It ends in the start/stop sequence, great Prog move here and left us in checkmate as we have nowhere else to go but to the next song.
“Endless Ether” takes us on a trip of Prog-psychedelia and has its fair share of ups and downs as it whisks us away in to the rabbit hole searching for the cat or the dog or the answers to some life long question of truth. Some lavish multi-layered tones here with dreamy overtones of synths and guitars with slight delay on them making for a very trippy concoction of sound. This song has a definite Krautrock sound to it a la “Harmonia” and “Kollektiv” style at times showing us that the band has multiple influences invading their sound which makes them more advanced and open minded to trying different avenues of sound. “Falling Down” is a laid back pleasant song that just goes with the stream of the waters upon which it floats with a distinct feel of Radiohead to its inspiration and creation. A great acoustic track accompanies the harmonic vocals here with the subtle bass lines that sit tight in the pocket with the drums. It incorporates quite a number of different styles and influences here from American hippie culture to the UK Underground scene of the 60’s. “I Am Not“, a direct statement of a song title begins with another acoustic riff that is reminiscent of The Pineapple Thief’s style but this is FraKtal and done their way. The vocals are very calm in the music here which is great attribute to their definitive sound and despite that this album was recorded/released in 2005 it has a very 90’s feel to the vocal sound and style which is great to hear different qualities like this in the band’s style/sound/presentation. A mid-range tone throughout that draws you in to its dreamlike weave of musical webbing as it is fashionable for this style of song in the middle of the record to have you relaxed and calmed down from the opening gateway crashers even if they too follow the similar and same patterns.
“Past Present” lathers us with swirls from the synths and warbling vocal noises that have you feeling like you are coming out of some kind of stupor from the night before and emerging in a room you are unaware of and don’t know where you are. An instrumental of cerebral testing as the droning synths take you to your consciousness and finish off with you feel like you are falling down that rabbit hole again as the song segues in to the next track, “Sorry“. Great use of echo effect on the guitar as the rest of the band carries on with a straight forward gear grinding rhythm never faltering from it. There’s no need to be sorry here as it applies the timbre/tempo changes here quite nicely. The guitar work here is a stand out as well as it’s almost a second voice and interjects with the human voice track and gets the final say as the song dives down to a finish. “Unreal Crosses” has a great walk on entrance to the song as the chords shift up and up before the vocals kick in. The band utilizes clean guitar sounds very effectively and with slight use of pedals here and there it’s an addition to their unique sound and sometimes the guitar work overpowers the vocals because there’s so many notes being thrown in to the mix you get lost in the intricacies of it. An excellent shift in the tempo/timbre department half way through the song and a bit of heaviness comes in to play and they give off this almost “Cream” and “David Rhodes” chording progression that stays with it till the end of the song. “This Song Says Nothing” has a distinct Post Rock feel to it in a God is An Astronaut kind of way to it until the vocals begin which I was thrown off by because going by the song’s title I expected an instrumental but the musical facets of the song keep very Post Rock style. The vocalist has a particular way of singing and it’s almost the same in small doses in every song which gives the band another element to their uniqueness and a common theme to their music. The mid section of this song has a great fuzz guitar to it before it drops back to its original formula and stays the pattern until it re-fuzzes up which I find to be a full sounding tone that just gives this song some greatly added spice to it. The title may say that it’s nothing but this song definitely says something!
“My Quittor” has an interesting drum track to it like the stick is being dropped on the snare to make a spittle/rumble/roll to it and along with some droning guitar tremolo effect here and there it takes on a life of its own. The vocals are a bit hard to understand here but again what is actually being said has never really concerned me that much but a little more in the forefront in the mix would have been good. The guitar work here is sticky and southern muddy giving the song a great drawl to it and a taste of a different flavour if you will which was nice to hear. “Hidden Lift” is a slow burner of a heartbeat track that commences very slowly as it creeps along the dusty recording room floors. The drums similar to My Quittor but more in the background here to bring more attention to the vocal track. The vocals have this one and just passed the halfway point the choral section can be heard in the background as the rest of the band jumps in to aid the song along and create a swirling and merry-go-round effect to it having your head spin in several directions as you continue to ride this one till the end. “Tree, Steps” keeps in the classic Prog tradition of saving the longest song for the last slot on the album. Very much like their Prog companions “Bauer” this band has a very calm demeanor to them and their music has you floating in space a lot of the time but Fraktal does have a slightly harder edge to them than Bauer does in many aspects making them stand out as their own and not a copy cat band but I think they both shop at the same store for guitars because they have such clean and crisp sounds coming form them. This song plays out some great single notes on guitar and the drumming is calm and passive as it presents open gateways to the tempo of the song. This also contains a very ethereal presence to it making you feel very weightless in your chair as you absorb it all in. You could just sit back and allow to take over your senses and you would feel the song carry you away. Just past the mid section the notes begin to dwindle down and leave you guessing what happens next to what becomes the second half of the song, “Steps” a combination two piece track we’re presented with and this seems more like a bit of hidden bonus track as it comes across as a bit like early versions of Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky” when it was called “The Mortality Sequence” in 1972 where the voices are overlapped and a hymnal keyboard is in the background then here the keys stop and the voices fade away to one last line, “There is No Hope” and the album is over. An interesting and very Prog finish to the record with a piece that leaves you wondering and having you play it over a few times to see if you can figure out what the voices are saying as you listening intently close to your speakers trying to understand what the message is IF there is one to be had or if it’s just voices speaking to you to say goodbye.
Fraktal certainly made this an interesting and much enjoyed journey through their sound and we emerged from the rabbit hole safely back in our own little world and looking at the album debating when we want to back down there through this album with a slight grin upon our faces. Here’s hoping that they release more music in the future. Enjoy.