Can't say I ever expected to hear something like Vitamin F on Southern Lord, a label mostly known for doom, drone, noise, and avant-garde black metal acts, but lo and behold, they are really throwing us a curveball with this excellent new release from jazz act Fontanelle. Apparently it's been about a decade this band last released new material, but Vitamin 5 will no doubt be worth the wait. Guitarist Rex Ritter has recorded and toured with drone veterans Sunn O))) (there's the Southern Lord connection!), and producer Randall Dunn has also worked with that band as well as roster mates Wolves in the Throne Room, so it all begins to make sense. The line-up is stacked with a host of horn players, keyboards, bass and drums, and the fine cast will take you back to late'60's/early '70s era Miles Davis, a time when rock, funk, and jazz collided to give you the early sounds of fusion.
That's right boys and girls, Vitamin F is like a psychedelic, jazzy, funky mind trip back to Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, and On the Corner, complete with deep, pulsating bass & drum grooves, trippy electric piano & clavinet, bleating horns, and metallic electric guitar. The grooves are never ending on tracks such as "Watermelon Hands" and "The Adjacent Possible", and the distored electric piano & guitar riffs on the title track, complemented by alluring horn melodies and tricky drum fills, will instantly take you back to those classic Miles Davis fusion records. Soaring reeds and violent shards of electric guitar do battle on "Traumaturge", and if you close your eyes on "When the Fire Hits the Forest", you'll almost swear you are hearing John McLaughlin and Chick Corea trading off sizzling licks. "Ataxia" is a more funk heavy vehicle, with some kick ass trumplet blasts over thick grooves and spacey Fender Rhodes, while closer "Reassimilated" is a slower, more atmospheric number with mournful horns and a haunting melody.
Unexpected yet thoroughly enjoyable, Vitamin F is one of 2012 late releases that has managed to catch me by surprise and totally knock my socks off. If you like the early jazz-fusion era, especially the music of Miles Davis, then you need to hear this.
1) Watermelon Hands
2) The Adjacent Possible
3) Vitamin F
5) When the Fire Hits the Forest