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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Dark Matter
Image © 1999 Fulamusic

Zoe Stafford Interview

More Fula
Songs From Beyond The Merrygolight
Dark Matter
The Beautiful, The Delicate and The True

(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 (photos), 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 current singer 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 tracks.

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 Genesis enthusiasts.

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 year promises 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!

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