(15 July 2000) Fula are a five-piece English progressive band that meld
a variety of influences into their sound. Although currently fronted by
a new young vocalist named Josie
their current album Dark Matter
(Fulamusic (UK) FCD1, 1999) features lead vocals by Zoe Stafford who
recently left the band to pursue a singing career elsewhere. We
saw Fula live at the Classic Rock Society in Rotherham, England support
Karnataka on 01 July 2000 (review).
For the most part they faithfully reproduce their recorded sound in the live setting
with the exception of the lead vocal part. The attractive young singer
is doing a good job but currently lacks the energy, diversity and vocal
maturity of their former member.
Fula have gone through several lineup changes over the band's career
which spans at least the last fifteen years. Dark Matter
is their one album; with 14 tracks spanning just over 60 minutes, it is
a commendable song-based progressive rock album. In addition to their
Josie, the band is comprised of leader Rob Gould (keyboards), Greg Boulton
(drums), Jason Gilman (guitars) and Nigel Moss (bass). Significantly harsher
than Karnataka in their sound, the Classic Rock Society audience enjoyed
their opening performance. While we found the live show a bit tedious, we
enjoyed their album substantially more. Dark Matter is entirely
self-produced and pressed on CD-R. Attractive artwork that accompanies it
includes all lyrics and has been produced by computer as well.
The album's title track is a dynamic progressive rocker with excellent
keyboard and guitar excursions, rhythmic percussion and a delightful soaring
lead vocal part. While some at Rotherham were intrigued by the band's pulsing
"Vanity" (Insanity), it is the one track the band has done that does nothing
for us, primarily due to the lack of vocal diversity within it. The album's
tracks generally feature stunning vocal parts and the range of styles
available adds to its appeal.
Symphonic instrumental arrangements and layers of harmony vocals compliment
the lead in the gentle rocking and stunning tracks "Girl In The Window" and
"Banner Of Shadows," certainly two of our favourite tracks by the band.
Clearly the instrumentals are more dominant in the latter with lovely
guitar excursions, but they are never overly agressive; melodies and
supporting harmonies are balanced with rhythm and crisp production
(especially drums and percussion) and add to the accessibility of the two
Dark Matter's softer and more atmospheric songs are dominated by
sensitively sung—at times soaring—vocals. These include "Nothing,"
"Everything" and the lovely atmospheric piece "River One - Part One."
Certain to appeal to those that like the band's softer side, "Behind Cold
Eyes" is a tender ballad with vocal layers soaring above a light keyboard-
and guitar-based instrumental arrangements that build as the track comes
to its conclusion.
"A New Advance" combines the band's softer style with a more agressive
guitar-ridden instrumental and a more complex, almost experimental,
vocal melody. "Where Did We Go Wrong?" is dominated by vast instrumental
prowess, primarily with reaching guitar riffs, driving bass and powerful
percussion; vocals are far more instrumental in their construction.
The rock anthems "Cynthia" and "Insanity" are dominated by the band's
powerful rhythm section and instrumentals and will appeal to those that
like music with a harder edge. The latter will certainly appeal to
Fula's Dark Matter is available from the band directly via their
website and is an album worth further exploration. The band are charting
a bright future in 2000 with support slots for major acts like Camel in
their plans. If the tremendous preview of a new 30-minute epic that was
performed in Rotherham is any indication, their new album due out later this
to be very exciting. With the range of styles available, solid production and
Zoe's excellent vocal work, we found Fula's album particularly enjoyable
and worthy of further exploration. It is certainly a very nice listen!