Ever since I discovered the album Further about 20 years ago or so, I’ve been intrigued with pretty much everything that Dave Pearce has released. I literally had to have everything they put out. And short of some 7”s I do. Even the really hard to find releases like In Search Of Spaces on Bruce Russell’s (of The Dead C) Corpus Hermeticum label. I don’t mention this to come off as a snob, but just saying FSA is one of my favorite artists of the past 25 years is a huge understatement. But I digress..Even though FSA had a huge influence on the rise the lo-fi folk, guitardrone and post rock scenes, FSA has always kept itself somewhere in the background, in obscurity. Only occasionally surfacing into the more ‘mainstream’ music scene, like the Clear Horizon collaboration with Jessica Bailiff on Kranky Records.
So, new FSA material, what can we expect? Dave has never been one to focus on a specific genre. FSA’s output ranges from lo-fi Nick Drake-ish folk, soaring blown-out shoegaze, drone, ambient, noise and everything in between. Instrumentals 2015 certainly doesn’t take the easy way. If anything it is probably one of FSA’s least accessible albums. It takes a special kind of patience to enjoy the 15 instrumental pieces. A lot of them sound like snippets of work-in-progress. Most of them sound like meandering freeform pieces containing very few footholds in the form of melodies. There’s a strange disconnected feeling I get when listening to this. Like hovering ‘above’ it, instead of being fully immersed. But as much as the music wanders off, it still demands a focus from the listener. It challenges you to find the small pieces of melody, and due to the layered nature of some of the tracks every listen reveals new depth. It is simply astounding how much Pearce manages to achieve with so little. Just one man and his guitar. And a truckload of effects...
Most first-time discoverers of FSA will likely be put off by the lo-fi, homemade production (a constant in the entire FSA output) of Instrumentals 2015 and the seeming lack of focus of the album. And granted, a better starting point for firsttimers would be 1995’s Further or even 2000’s Mirror. But like I said, the key to this album is to have patience.. It will be greatly rewarded. Essential for all FSA fans and a great incentive to delve in FSA backcatalogue for everyone else.