Zach Phillips (Fievel is Glauque / Blanche Blanche Blanche / OSR Tapes)

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Anyone into this guy? I've fallen hard for Fievel is Glauque's "God's Trashmen Sent to Right the Mess": lo-fi jazz-prog pop with unusual song structures and understated female vocals, sort of puts me in mind of Slapp Happy (if the singer were Belgian as opposed to German). I've been trying to orient myself with regard to the rest of his sprawling discography but I'm finding it a bit daunting…

goodoldneon, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 02:39 (one year ago) link

yes he turns out some mighty fine tuneage. my faves are BBB's "wink..." , "feed a pigeon,, " & the martyr group CDs, but i haven't heard nearly half of what he's done. top tier stuff

massaman gai (front tea for two), Wednesday, 28 September 2022 03:23 (one year ago) link

this mix of uruguayan music he made is insanely good

enjoyed this recent interview with him.. heady fellow

flopson, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 07:23 (one year ago) link

FIG released an incredible EP earlier this year (Aerodynes) and then took it down from the internet a bit later because it's going to be rereleased in a different form. I'd bought it on Bandcamp but didn't download it. It isn't like he hasn't released anything else to tide us over though

imago, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 07:25 (one year ago) link

ZP is a total genius songwriter/arranger/performer, and I try not to use that word lightly. Slapp Happy is a spot-on reference point for what he does, especially the Fievel Is Glauque and Perfect Angels stuff.

OP I would make it a priority to hear his solo record Feed A Pigeon, Breed A Rat and Perfect Angels' Exit From the Ultra World, both from last year. Blanche Blanche Blanche best explored chronologically imo. His work has only gotten more impressive in recent years; he said in an interview that in 2018 Ryan Power pushed him to start making proper charts for his songs, and I think that has had a major impact on the quality and sophistication of his arrangements.

xp flopson that's a great interview; I love the part where he talks about his songwriting process. His level of erudition is so far above mine I feel like he could throw me with his brain.
This one is good too:

And yeah his mix of Uruguayan music is amazing, a portal to a rich and beautiful universe of music that runs parallel to the MPB of the 70s and 80s.

There's also been some ZP talk/hype on this thread recently: rolling twenty-something RYM/internet stuff like hyperpop, hypnagogic pop, hexD, vaporwave, dungeon synth, cloud rap, nightcore, black midi, future funk, dariacore, seapunk, blown out anime voices, br

J. Sam, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 15:30 (one year ago) link

Fievel came up on a Spotify algorithm recently and I've been listening non-stop. I love it - strong Blue Gene Tyranny influence to my ears. ZP gives the most abstruse interviews tho.

Piedie Gimbel, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 15:49 (one year ago) link

Yeah, I feel like Blue Gene's "Next Time Might Be Your Time" is the sonic blueprint for Fievel, though Zach's songs are both proggier and more concise than Blue Gene's.

Zach says there are two Fievel full-lengths currently in post-production, one of them possibly a double LP. I saw them live in Brooklyn a few weeks ago playing songs from one of the forthcoming LPs and it was wonderful. Lots to look forward to!

J. Sam, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 15:58 (one year ago) link

Good egg, him. Just saw Fievel last week opening for Stereolab; he has a perfect way around being a raconteur.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 16:36 (one year ago) link

Also caught FIG opening for Stereolab — loved it. One of the cooler, more interesting sounds I've heard in a while.

tylerw, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 18:03 (one year ago) link

most recent release–"go down softly"/"the river"–is surprisingly smooth

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 28 September 2022 19:22 (one year ago) link

kind of remarkable he's carved out this moment for himself; he seemed doomed to obscurity for so long

obviously if you haven't heard Wooden Ball you should do so

imago, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 19:28 (one year ago) link

super stoked for the stereolab/FIG tour. loved the recent BBB "seashells" lp on reading group.

adam, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 19:39 (one year ago) link

I've been a fan since 2010 so it's kind of weird that he's having a relative moment in the sun with the Fievel album, Stereolab tour, James Acaster interview of all things... It is funny that his break out record was recorded live in mono on cassette, but in a way that's perfect (and possibly in part due to his trolling of the RYM hive mind in regards to it? I don't know)

I've listened to everything, but I'll try to focus on the question and say there's not too much else out there like that Fievel is Glauque album. Fievel being bit "straighter" than a lot of his stuff. I guess partially due to having a more traditionally "slick" singer, a live band and sounding a bit more in some kind of chanson/bossa nova/early-60s-pop tradition.

This recent Blanche Blanche Blanche "live-in-studio" retrospective is closest to Fievel with the instrumentation and kind of works as a nice overview of their stuff from their ~10 albums too. Try "In the Ring":

Blanche Blanche Blanche I guess were/are kind of his main project. Generally Zach Phillips on various keyboard instruments (more synthy early on, I think deliberately playing it that aspect down later on) with Sarah Smith singing, occasionally with guest musicians (and once with a kind of "rock band" for the whole album ("Breaking Mirrors")). People I've played them too always seem to get put off by the singing approach, but I love it and can't imagine it done any other way (especially early on when they both used to trade lines more).

I know "Blue" Gene Tyranny "Out of the Blue" is an avowed way-point and a bit more audible in the songwriting than some of the stuff he references (Royal Trux, Maher Shalal Hash Baz). For me, the main way I situate his stuff is with the rest of the spicier Vermont/Brattleboro people that he kind of came out of: Chris and Kurt Weisman, Ruth Garbus, Ryan Power... A whole world of amazing music there.

"Wink With Both Eyes" is a kind of the archetypal BBB album I guess but I really like all of them. Try "Mercantile Rugs":

Their latest one "Seashells" is simultaneously more stripped-down, knottier and sillier (and funnier) at the same time. Try "In the Heat of the Moment":

Other than BBB, most of everything else he's been involved is under lots of different names - ala The Homosexuals - but is generally solo or at least primarily his songwriting.

This 7" under the name "Lilith Outcome" (only one release so far) would probably appeal to a FIG fan:

A lot of the stuff under his own name (particularly anything digital-only) are more like demo collections of song ideas. I'm into all of that stuff as well - and don't really agree with a demo/song dichotomy - but just something to be aware in the face of an imposing amount of music. The latest "Feed a Pigeon..." album being an obvious exception:

Generally anything pre-2010ish - Horse Boys, Sord, Heat Wilson etc. - is totally different, a lot of noisier tape collage type stuff.

Lots of dense interviews out there (and dense - but fun - music/lyrics in general) that read in a way that kind of betray what I believe is/was his day job in the American legal system...

So much to dig into and I'm glad it's getting out there beyond the 20 people that used to buy OSR tapes!

linee, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 20:40 (one year ago) link

Add in both of his albums with CE Schneider (Kevin Barnes' partner and bandmate!) - they're quieter and more restrained than usual but there's magic in those murmurings

imago, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 20:52 (one year ago) link

(but that's a fabulous overview linee and plenty in there I need to check out still too...)

imago, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 20:54 (one year ago) link

I also caught them with Stereolab and found them intriguing but difficult to parse. It was almost like what if jazzy Stereolab kept wandering off into microtonality and skronk improv. I'll definitely explore further, although I'm under the impression that their recorded output is not particularly representative.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Wednesday, 28 September 2022 20:58 (one year ago) link


Oh I *love* the CE Schneider Topical/Jepeto Solutions/Locate S,1 records too, The only reason I didn't mention them is that ZP was definitely in more of a supporting role with those and they're 90% Christina's songs. I would definitely put her stuff in my Brattleboro pantheon.


It struck me that on top of all of the names, there's definitely a bit of Bandcamp clutter but 95% of it all appears to be consolidated in the Zach Phillips one if people want a central source:

(FYI there's a few non-ZP, stray OSR Tapes releases at the end - everything after Horse Boys' I)

linee, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 22:19 (one year ago) link

Thanks linee, that's exactly the kind of informed overview I was looking for. I've been digging into Blanche Blanche Blanche – the vocals did put me off at first but I'm getting used to them. "Fiscal Remote Distilled" sounds really good - at times it kind of reminds me of The Waitresses?

goodoldneon, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 22:20 (one year ago) link

New Fievel, from Flaming Swords LP, out Nov. 25. He don't miss:

J. Sam, Thursday, 6 October 2022 02:33 (one year ago) link

aw yeah

massaman gai (front tea for two), Thursday, 6 October 2022 04:18 (one year ago) link

Love it

goodoldneon, Friday, 7 October 2022 00:37 (one year ago) link

at some point he had the whole OSR catalog up on bandcamp for peanuts, i am still revisiting and finding good stuff years later

adam, Friday, 7 October 2022 01:21 (one year ago) link

Just realized that's Fievel's arm on the left on the Flaming Swords cover lol

J. Sam, Tuesday, 11 October 2022 14:33 (one year ago) link

been listening to this on repeat; love how it keeps churning itself up into a frenzy. that daphne and celeste/max tundra line i've probably quoted on here before comes to mind - "hyperventilating in the factory of sound".

looks like Jake Tobin did the striking cover art. only one passing mention of him in the ILX archives so i''ll place this here as a PSA:

linee, Wednesday, 12 October 2022 00:35 (one year ago) link

loved the recent BBB "seashells" lp on reading group.

Their latest one "Seashells" is simultaneously more stripped-down, knottier and sillier (and funnier) at the same time.

Gotta echo the love for Seashells. I can't think of another album that's made me laugh out loud as much as this one. Totally unhinged lyrical brilliance/hilarity from Sarah Smith, amen, peace out, shoot your shot

J. Sam, Wednesday, 12 October 2022 15:31 (one year ago) link

jeepers creepers y'all

linee, Wednesday, 12 October 2022 20:59 (one year ago) link

the uruguayan 100 track megamix is wild, highly recommended!

adam, Thursday, 13 October 2022 13:12 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

I totally missed that the closing track from Flaming Swords dropped last week:

That long instrumental coda is unreal. This is how you prog the fuck out!

J. Sam, Wednesday, 16 November 2022 23:51 (one year ago) link

Flaming Swords is out and it's...challenging, in the best way possible. Each song is so densely packed with circuitous chord changes that veer in and out of dissonance that a lot of it washed over me on first listen. But it makes more and more sense with each replay, new moments of beauty and brilliance revealing themselves each time. It's also gorgeously recorded and mixed, with some nice precisely deployed signal processing throughout (e.g. the flange/chorus in the second half of "Wrong Item", the echo on the snare in "I'm A Place"). I love all the pedal steel flourishes that give the whole thing a glowing cosmic twang.

Also it's just really impressive that the whole album was recorded live to tape in a single marathon session; they talk about it here:

J. Sam, Monday, 28 November 2022 14:44 (one year ago) link

It's really great, yes - as one RYM comment put it, almost a Canterbury Scene album in feel, but done in ZP's inimitable wrong-jazz way

imago, Monday, 28 November 2022 16:51 (one year ago) link

I’ve pointed this out before, but Phillips has also published poetry. Here’s his most recent:

Waiting until Friday to get the new FIG but very excited about it.

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Monday, 28 November 2022 17:58 (one year ago) link

i had to double-check that I hadn't written J. Sam's post above... i've listened 5 or 6 times now and it just gets better

it almost feels kind of funny to highlight on something that's so much about the chord motion and harmony, but the drumming (and how it's recorded) is so great throughout.

linee, Monday, 28 November 2022 21:20 (one year ago) link

Loving the new album

This guy is the Frank Zappa of The Girl From Ipanema

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 November 2022 14:15 (one year ago) link

Oh, hey, turns out I unreservedly love this one. I've tried various tracks before and they just never stuck - can't quite remember what turned me off but my fuzzy memory is telling me the jazz was a bit too smooth and the melodies not quite strong enough? Feel free to shout at me and tell me I was wrong about that, but this one is definitely hitting me.

emil.y, Tuesday, 29 November 2022 15:01 (one year ago) link

Won’t shout, but “The River” (either the single or the version from Aérodynes) is absolutely one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard this year, truly incredible imo.

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Tuesday, 29 November 2022 15:23 (one year ago) link

YES I love "The River" so much. The Blanche Blanche Blanche original is great too in its haunted "glo-fi" way, but it deserved to get the full HD Fievel treatment

J. Sam, Tuesday, 29 November 2022 16:52 (one year ago) link

This is superb, thank u ilm

rob, Tuesday, 29 November 2022 17:36 (one year ago) link

Don't miss out on Aerodynes (the EP from earlier this year) too! Hard to say yet which I prefer

imago, Tuesday, 29 November 2022 17:43 (one year ago) link

link? I can't seem to find that one anywhere

rob, Tuesday, 29 November 2022 17:53 (one year ago) link

slapp happy and henry cow were the first things I thought of when hearing this stuff, and there it is in the first post. I really like these past couple albums, the band is very tight live, but there's something about the band's work that seems pretty disposable, idk

Bongo Jongus, Tuesday, 29 November 2022 18:05 (one year ago) link

new one is sounding grrrrreat. really impressive how much is packed into each tune but it rarely seems overstuffed.

tylerw, Tuesday, 29 November 2022 19:57 (one year ago) link

link? I can't seem to find that one anywhere

He took it off of Bandcamp for reasons, i guess. Happy to send it, my webmail works.

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Tuesday, 29 November 2022 23:42 (one year ago) link

finally getting around to the new one and wow! every song has a moment of casual virtuosity in either performance or composition, often both

comedy khadafi (voodoo chili), Monday, 12 December 2022 18:47 (one year ago) link

amazing album

flopson, Monday, 12 December 2022 18:56 (one year ago) link

yeah i've listened at least once a day since it came out. there's a couple of songs i like less, but with the 1-2-3 punch of the first three songs you're already on the hydroslide and it's hard not to listen to the whole thing.

linee, Monday, 12 December 2022 22:12 (one year ago) link

Don't call it Canterbury!


as a self-taught weirdo who's always felt like a wack instrumental worm & who's in embarrassed awe of nearly every jazzer's musicianship, when people criticize Fievel in the vein of "this virtuosic Jacob Collier Berklee bullshit leaves me cold" it hits like the hugest compliment

— Fievel Is Glauque // Zach Phillips (@fievelisglauque) December 13, 2022

I think genres are a useful shorthand for describing how something sounds, but I get why one might bristle at being slapped with a label that has nothing to do with one's own conception of their music.

At any rate, AOTY for me

J. Sam, Thursday, 15 December 2022 16:21 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

[VHS, phone & DV recordings from Aug/Sep 2021, Brussels BE at Kiosk Radio, VOLTA, & Brasserie de la Mule]
this video compilation mirrors (+ 1 extra song) the sequence of our first studio album "Flaming Swords," which was recorded in a single day the same week as these shows/rehearsals.

J. Sam, Friday, 20 January 2023 13:42 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

He just released a new album under the Martyr Group project (Zach on vocals/keys + 4 guitarists). Cassette pre-order and download:

I'm about halfway through and really digging it. It's noisier/spikier than the last Fievel and as harmonically/melodically/lyrically dense as ever. I haven't heard either of the two previous Martyr Group albums, so I have some catching up to do...

Notes from Bandcamp:

𝕬𝖑𝖇𝖚𝖒 𝕽𝖊𝖛𝖎𝖊𝖜, 𝖇𝖞 𝖎𝖙𝖘 𝕾𝖔𝖓𝖌𝖜𝖗𝖎𝖙𝖊𝖗
4/24/23, Brooklyn NY: I've just heard the new Martyr Group album. I'll tell the story so far: cemeterily crabbed by the curfewed Brussels of 2021 and psychosomatically/technologically thwarted from recording to my usual indiscernible specs, I still somehow managed to extract from the general shambles of my congenital brambles a season's batch of bad little birdies. These I entrusted to the direction of Quentin "Big French" Moore, who was charged with supervisorily forcing the cumulative transformation of my hasty Tascam 4-tracks and questionable charts into these here ersatz togethernesses of our geographically fractured Martyr Group. It was agreed I'd be disallowed from hearing the material again in anything but its eventual, mastered form.

Established 2014, Martyr Group's original premise was to make 100% live recordings of my dustiest songwriting with 4 guitarists -- Stephe, Quentin, Sam & Tommy -- rehearsed quickly (or not at all) using highly dubious charts, everyone playing direct-in to the Tascam 388, with zero percussive instrumentation and my vocal mic being the only air on the tape, mixed performatively in a deejay style. The sickly-sour air of fermenting mash meant for no potable purpose accordingly wafts from both our previous albums, but the stench off this third salmagundi is so ripe it partially lost us a member. Clocking the derangement of our enterprise, core affiliate Sam "Samuel Boat" Lisabeth immersed himself instead in the adult concerns of that external world these songs deny, though he did deign coquettishly appear, if only to tantalize the listener with his pointed scarcity. Sam's lovingly linear, da-Vincianly precise "coloring between the staves" usually offsets the rest of the group's gravitation toward what my ear tastes as "pickled major," so missing here is the garnish traditional to settle our stomach, and finally it is audibly alone the heroic hatch-battening of Stephe "Turbo World" Cooper (here in both mixing and performance capacities) that stems a would-be-fatal flood of superlydian vinegar.

Then there is Tom "Uncivilized" Csatari's fusional relationship with the guitar, for him more than the others appendage-like, the wagging finger of some deep-seated law. His appearance here is as consistently natural and unified as an old-growth wood bordering the crazy-tilt spires Quentin and Stephe built all over my house of cards, often in their hysterics eclipsing its foundation lines, these mostly to be glimpsed in ostensible highlight by the "unreliable narrator" drummers Nick Baker and Derek Baron. Tommy's peanut butter hedgeline and my original rhodes voicings are alike pierced again and again by the sharp frosting of Quentin's densest-yet agit-prop harmonic layer cakes, greedy greedy stacks that spurred even circumspect Stephe to go more than a bit toppings-mad. According to Stephe, Quentin provided stems almost equal in number to everyone else's trackings combined. No one said you couldn't come to this melee fully strapped, so my friend unrivaled in sideways swordsmanship rolled up like this was Blade 4, trenchcoat double-stuffed with goodies galore.

This dense thicket of words, by the way, derives not only from manic enthusiasm hopefully betraying tacit compliment for all concerned, but also my considerable psychological distance from the result of what originated as my writing, an odd enterprise from which I already find myself routinely removed. I do not, after all, remember writing any of these songs, but that in and of itself is hardly unusual -- what's new is my complete lack of involvement in their development and representation. So in the end, I hear this as a Quentin or Stephe solo album as much as one by Martyr Group. "Collaboration," a dirty word recalling the sins of Vichy, is wonderfully absent here, where it's "every man for himself" through cartoon mazes of button-mashed pentads. Instead of beautifying my little birdies with gratifying "contributions," Quentin and Stephe shunted them through serieses of sieves, dicing and reconstituting their spirits like high-priced deli snacks in a world none of us can afford, then exhibiting their munching. More than this perversion of impetus in the shape of a senselessly fine-wrought task I could not have dreamed. And as in half my favorite art, this excessive and directionally abstruse labor resembles that greatest of fools' errands, the martyr's quest for survival through death. The other half, of course, has never been the jurisdiction of Martyr Group.
-- Zach Phillips, 2023

J. Sam, Thursday, 15 June 2023 17:28 (eleven months ago) link

two months pass...

Couple of new FiG tracks. w00t!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 15 August 2023 12:11 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

^They don't miss. Also signed to Fat Possum and have finished tracking a new album.

J. Sam, Friday, 13 October 2023 22:21 (seven months ago) link

one month passes...

How did it take me until TODAY to hear Wink With Both Eyes, total colossal masterpiece obv

imago, Monday, 20 November 2023 16:54 (six months ago) link

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