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Doddy, Fritz: The Feeling Of Far

Here's a risky statement: If this record had been released in the 1970s it would be on a pedestal today alongside the best pieces by progressive rock's big five.

We live in an era when originality is almost impossible because someone, somewhere, has already done it. Yet with The Feeling Of Far, Fritz Doddy has achieved that rare quality of true originality. The vibe across this record is reminiscent of early prog's very Brit-like irreverence and self deprecation, its creativity and its flagrant disregard for convention. Yet for all that innovation, there's no avant garde, RIO, or off the wall stuff here. The whole piece is approachable and very melodic - the hooks are enormous, and the simple but elegant tunes will stay with you for weeks.

One of the first impressions you'll get is what fun this record is. The upbeat yet enormously sensitive treatment of its subject matter will bring you smiles, and you get the idea that it was a series of happy accidents that were dashed off in a week or two of inspiration. Not so - this is a classic example of the adage 'the hardest thing to accomplish is to make something look easy'. This album was a seven-year labor of love, and on close examination you can appreciate both - the meticulous attention to detail, and the deeply personal sentiments imbued in this music.

Multi-instrumentalist Fritz Doddy is a multiple Clio award-winning creative director, with musical scores used extensively on national television commercials and on TV station identifications, and has honed his skills playing in a variety of bands for many years. And this music has received glowing commendations from Yes's Jon Anderson. (We'll leave it to Fritz to reveal the contents of that review.)

Doddy describes The Feeling Of Far as a concept album, but it's really a strongly themed piece in which similar sentiments are expressed across the whole record, and there are recurring musical and lyrical themes that tie it all together very effectively. The best way to describe the music is 'trippy-eclectic meets melodic by way of the 1970s, played in the park across the road from The Beatles, The Cardiacs The Moody Blues and Tears For Fears'. No two songs are the same, no two sections are the same, yet it remains cohesive and consistent throughout. The overall sound leans toward light-hearted prog-pop, yet there's enormous depth here. Besides the standard rock ensemble this music is built with contributions from a big collection of guest artists and with a big collection of instruments including violin, melodica, mandolin, cellos, electric sitar, bouzouki, trombone, Chinese flutes, minimoog, kalimba, shakers and toy piano. And it is a true showcase for Mellotrons. A recent acquisition Doddy received from Streetly is a tape frame containing new samples that he developed himself. Key among these is a plucked piano - you climb into a big Yamaha grand with a guitar pick and you pluck each piano string. The result is a series of samples that fall somewhere between a finger-picked 12-string and a piano, with a deep, rich tone that is used to wonderful effect on this CD. Yet for all those instrumental contributions, the music flows with deceptive ease. There are no big walls of sound just an easy stream of continually fluid, always different sounds never straying from the basic themes and melodies.

The vocals are varied, provided mostly by Fritz in a light mid-range. There are important contributions by Ian Loyd, members of the Doddy family, and particularly by Susan McKeown (singing in English and Gaelic) and Peiwen Chao singing in Chinese. The lyrics are intelligent and explore the fact that as we grow up we lose so much of what we had as children, and this music attempts to recapture those qualities. My daughter's older than I'll ever be, and My dogs like chasing ghosts from my past ... Knowing I can't see them'. The mood of these songs is consequently buoyant and energetic, yet for some of us, the message is so close to home that as you reach out for that replay button you feel you've just been hit by a Mac truck.

So it doesn't come from the 1970s. But The Feeling Of Far's quality and appeal matches the inventiveness and the sincerity of that era, and ought to find a place among the greats.

Track Listing:
1. Cynical Eye (6:24)
2. Amieveliano (6:42)
3. The Feeling of Far (2:43)
4. It's Only a Dream (5:07)
5. All the Best (3:49)
6. In the Tree (6:09)
7. Over You (4:03)
8. God is Hiding (2:08)
9. Nothing but Laughter (5:48)
10. The Lonely Path (5:47)
11. Cynical Eye (radio mix) (3:47)
12. It's Only a Dream (radio mix) (4:19)

Added: June 6th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Score:
Related Link: Fritz Doddy's Web Site
Hits: 2736
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Doddy, Fritz: The Feeling Of Far
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-06-06 15:37:29
My Score:

Fritz Doddy's The Feeling of Far will undoubtedly be the best album featuring kitchen utensils, a toy piano, bongos, foreign-language lyrics and a Munchkin choir that you'll hear all year. It may even be the best album featuring kitchen utensils, a toy piano, bongos, foreign-language lyrics and a Munchkin choir that you'll hear your entire life. This music, which also includes traditional instruments, loads of mandolin and Mellotron, plus melodica, bouzouki, six-string bass, shakers, a recorder, violin, cello, clarinet, flute, e-bow and erhu, wraps itself snugly around listeners - warm and fuzzy but also deep and complex. Think Brian Wilson's Smile recorded by vintage-era Beatles and Yes.

It reportedly took seven years for sweet-voiced multi-instrumentalist Fritz Doddy to record The Feeling of Far, and it shows. There is not a single note out of place here, even though some of these songs sound improvised on the spot, with lots of sound effects and a free-flowing pace. The music is in constant motion, probably a byproduct of Doddy's work writing music for television commercials. While the album doesn't adhere to an obvious concept, the songs are held together by some repetition of musical and lyrical ideas, and many of the lyrics seem to be about coming to grips with getting older.

Doddy has been married for 25 years, and evidence of his role as a family man is revealed both in the liner notes and on the record. He's got the whole family on this album including singing children, a yelling father and barking dogs. Highlights include "Cynical Eye," "Amieveliano," "All the Best" and "Nothing But Laughter," but you will need several listens to fully comprehend this record. Even then, The Feeling of Far may seem just out of reach - like a long-lost friend with whom you're trying desperately to get reacquainted.


Doddy, Fritz: The Feeling Of Far
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-07 09:11:36
My Score:

I'll admit, it took at least a dozen spins for this CD to fully reach out, grab me, and pull me in. Now that it has, there is no turning back, no escape from the wonderful melodies, the intoxicating yet calm instrumentation, the engaging pop sensibility of the whole thing. With The Feeling of Far Fritz Doddy has created an album that Porcupine Tree or Spock's Beard might have made had they cast aside all intricate prog and hard rock aspirations and truly played up to their Beatles inspirations. In fact, Doddy has touched on just that-this is a journey that the Fab Four might have taken had they continued on in the early 70's. Rich vocal harmonies, wonderful and eclectic backing vocals, lush arrangements, ethnic flavored instrumental passages, and loads of varied sounds from the mighty Mellotron, all make for a 70's sounding album yet with a modern twist. Tunes like "Amievellano", with it's gorgeous female vocals from Susan McKeown, and the sitar & cello sounds, or the addictive title track featuring engaging "munchkin" vocals from Doddy and Valerie Wilson as well as lovely Mellotron, just warrant repeated play.

Doddy does the whole shebang on "It's Only a Dream", a gorgeous little number that sees him covering the vocals, guitars, Mellotron, percussion, and other assorted instruments. He even gets his family involved on the psychedelic pop of "In the Tree", a fun tune that has huge Beatles-meets-Yes vocal harmonies and trippy guitar work. The Mellotron is featured on the lazy pop of "Nothing But Laughter", a catchy little number where Doddy's melodic vocals are mixed perfectly with the children's choir, performed by his children Adrienne and Jake Doddy.

In summary, a wonderful gem of an album, that in a perfect world would touch the hearts of millions given the chance. Bravo!

Doddy, Fritz: The Feeling Of Far
Posted by Steve Ambrosius, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-06 13:46:58
My Score:

There is no telling why some CDs strike a certain chord with us. The Feeling of Far has apparently touched all the right buttons for my friend Duncan. Reading his review before I got the CD made me expect something completely different than what I received. The funny thing is, I like the CD almost as much as Duncan, but for entirely different reasons.

I am not disagreeing with Duncan's review, strictly telling you that in my opinion, the #1 best quality of this CD is songwriting. Never one to take an easy path, Fritz Doddy mixes exactly what he thinks the song needs. If it is the "munchkin" vocals on the title track or the bongos on "All The Best", there is never a moment in one song that doesn't flow in an unexpected direction. And I say flow, because this CD flows from song to song and moment to moment.

The Feeling Of Far will appeal to almost all lovers of eclectic music composition. Doddy plays so many instruments on this CD that you have to be in awe. That said, there is never one solo or interlude that you say "what an amazing musician." Instead it is the entire song structure that leaves you awed. The vocals are fairly sweet but beneath them is an interesting and intelligent lyric base.

One final pet peeve is that the final two songs are radio mixes of previous songs on the CD. Many people enjoy the second or third odd mix of a song, but for me, it is the non-radio friendly aspects of the songs that make them so appealing. Cutting "Cynical Eye" to 3:47 pretty much takes out the creative genius of the song. A minor issue for sure, and should not dissuade anyone from buying this excellent CD.



» Reader Comments:

Doddy, Fritz: The Feeling Of Far
Posted by Ken Leonard on 2005-03-31 19:26:27
My Score:

Fritz Doddy's music is honest, open, and refreshing. Indeed--some people may feel "hit by a Mac truck" on listening (see my review of "The Feeling of Far" at http://www.kleonard.com/music/reviews/doddy.htm ), but overall the album is beautiful and will speak to listeners on many levels. A wonderful job! ...kl...




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