The agonising four year wait for another fix of Fennesz has not been in vain – it is a constant source of amazement to me, that time has moved so quickly since Touch’s release of Venice. In that time, Fennesz has refined his modus operandi with a clutch of live appearances and collaborative projects, that have seen his material further matured, and perhaps a little more distilled. Black Sea opens with a title track that is unmistakably Fennesz in feel, yet here we see his layerings and fracturings more considered, and possibly less improvisational. A host of copyists have perhaps enabled the great man to take stock of his methodology, and focus more on the musical elements, as opposed to systematically dismantling the guitar sound altogether, virtually transmuting it into another instrument.
Fennesz’ strength lies in his deliciously capable handling of the instrument through a range of live permutations and restructurings, always maintaining wonderfully hooky harmonies, and blistering effects, generally amongst an ethereal foam of glitchy textures, and static mist – indeed at times, sonic references to Noto’s recent Xerrox would not be out of the question, as Fennesz manipulates his raw material with sculptural dexterity, with delicate and beautiful harmonies emerging from dense and overdriven texture. Even on the second track, The Colour of Three, we hear a Fennesz whose technique is now being held in check, despite the fuzzy, overdriven familiarity, it somehow isn’t quite the full on, amped up beast of the past. For me, the high points of this captivating collection have to be Grey Scale, and Glide – Grey Scale is an awesomely beautiful piece, its central themes rotating around delicately picked guitar, whilst Glide emerges from complete silence that gradually builds into a soaring sonic edifice, gilded with some of the most beautiful harmonics I have heard in a long long time. Once again, Touch have a masterpiece on their hands in the form of Black Sea, and since I received it two weeks back, barely a day has gone by without it being played..the litmus test for a highly listenable, and deeply enchanting return to the fold, by one of the experimental scene’s Grand Masters. Absolutely essential. BGN