Exposé Online banner

Human Ottoman — Farang
(Bandcamp no#, 2015, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-04-03

Farang Cover art

This Oregon trio first came to my attention when they landed on the bill of the Seaprog festival. Their instrumentation is as unusual as their name: cello with effects, drums, and vibraphone with effects. Yeah, neither bass nor guitar, though obviously the cello can handle the low end. Farang is their second release, and it presents their “polyrhythmic rock” in eight cuts of energetic music balancing complexity and mayhem. “The Infernal Mechanism of Commerce” features a beefy, distorted low end with a grinding riff, pounding drums, and chanted singing. “Falling” gives the vibes a more prominent role, with the cello functioning much like an upright bass, and a sweet vocal part — though there is a middle section where they amp up the energy. “Nth Degree” has a cello part that’s a bit like a warped, distorted folk fiddle tune, at least for some sections. And in case you hadn’t noticed a connection with math rock, there’s a track called “3(5)+4” — which concisely describes its metric pattern. Overall, while Human Ottoman is a rock group, the attitude is clearly jazz-inflected, with composed parts approached in a spirit of improvisation. I’m sure these tunes sound a bit different every time they’re performed. As to the three musicians… while the cello and vibes provide the harmonic interest, it is drummer Susan Lucia who ends up stealing the show. Her playing is busy but not show-offy, solid and inventive even in the less aggressive sections, where she hits the rims and sides of drums instead of the heads. She is clearly an equal partner in the enterprise, not just a timekeeper. Matthew Cartmill’s cello has a monster sound, filling the roles that both bass and guitar would handle in a more conventional band. Sometimes a pure, natural tone is used, either plucked as a bass, soaring upwards like a violin, or sawing away rhythmically. At other times the tone gets downright nasty, with massive amounts of fuzz. The vibes are played by Grayson Fiske, sometimes sounding like what you expect from the instrument, sometimes functioning very much like a Rhodes electric piano, especially when augmented by various effects devices. I’m pretty sure an octave doubler is used to allow the vibes to play bass notes at times, and there are also some weird swoops that could be produced by any number of devices, giving a synthesizer-like impression. The bottom line is that Human Ottoman is one of the most original bands going, and lovers of avant-rock owe it to themselves to check out Farang.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Human Ottoman

More info
http://humanottoman.bandcamp.com/album/farang

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Øresund Space Collective - Øresund Space Collective – Scandinavia appears to be the 21st Century’s space rock incubator and Øresund Space Collective is one of the latest offspring. The ØSC is a group of Danish, Swedish, and American musicians who...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues