Fula - Dark Matter - Reviews
This is the second CD released by North-West of England band Fula, following on from their debut, 'Beyond the Merrygolight' (1995). The band borders on the verge of progressive but I would say that they are closer to mainstream classic-rock. The sound is built heavily around the exquisite keyboards of Rob Gould and the sublime guitar of Jason Gilman. The vocals are provided by Zoe Stafford and her powerful, emotional delivery gives the band very much a feel of The Gathering, Forever Times and Blyndesyde and there are even echoes of Siouxsie and the Banshees.
The fourteen tracks are a heady mixture
indeed as the band take you on a rollercoaster of emotions as they soar to heights of ecstasy and yet there is a darker
undercurrent that is thrilling in its intensity. This is perhaps summed up by the track Everything which is simply beautiful
and as good as anything I have ever heard. The album starts superbly with Dark Matter and the high standards are maintained
throughout as tracks such as Girl in the Window, River One and Nothing confirm we could have a major talent here. Simply awesome.
Wondrous Stories magazine
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 Bostin, their current album Dark Matter 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 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 line up changes over the band's career which spans at least the last five 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.
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 aggressive; 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 aggressive 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!
For the uninitiated, Fula are the current darlings of the Buxton gig circuit..... but that is not to say that they are hyped up,overblown egos running amok,they are quite simply that good. Combined, keyboardist Rob Gould, guitarist Jason Gilman and vocalist Zoe Stafford create some of the most blinding, spellbinding tunes I've heard in ages. When an album can keep a shiver running down your spine for over an hour, it's clear there's something special going on.
Comparisons don't do them justice - this is utterly contemporary: punchy bass work and relentless, powerful drumming vie for space with inspirational synth riffs and some of the best guitaring you're going to hear, ever. But then there's the voice: angelic, pure intimate, contrasting starkly with the dark, frightening, moody nature of the lyrics, Zoe is literally awesome.
14 songs, 14 great songs rip you apart, kick sand in your face, pick you up then
start all over again. If this CD is the yardstick for all Buxton bands there 's
going to be some great music hitting the stereos. Fula may not be big at the moment,
but with songs like Girl in the window, Insanity and Vanity, this time next year
they'll be massive. GUARANTEED. You've really got to hear them for yourself -
mere words are not enough. Rated 5/5.
Bla Bla Bla
WHEN an album is entitled Dark Matter and the graphics black and moody, you can just about guess that you're not going to be jumping about and singing when it comes on the stereo. Fula want to take you back to a time of goth, prog rock and The Crow. Think rock laced with fiddly guitar solos, backed with electronic drum kits and LOTS of echo fx.
Not that this is neccessarily a bad thing. In fact when you're good enough musicians, you can indeed carry this off, as the album goes on to prove. Aided, undoubtedly by Zoe's Portishead-alike, beautifully, haunting vocals, there are some good tunes on here.
"Vanity - the great cover up" stands out for its catchy hooks and mid-tune synth break, which sounds not unlike Blur would, were they to perform tracks from Modern Life is Rubbish on downers. Equally, the minimalist, piano-laden "Banner of Shadows" showcases the vocals and is also rather a good track.
On the other hand, and I appreciate I'm too happy and too post-teen to understand, but the lyrics do have a teenage, angst-ridden, written in a black bedroom, with the Holy Bible on repeat quality. That's to say, a bit too much pseudo-psychological pondering for my liking.
However, for a cult, goth film soundtrack album, you could do a lot worse - Edward Sizzorhands II, maybe? But for the moment, it sounds a tad dated. A shame, as the quality is there and maybe it's merely a case of listening to 3 minute pop numbers, replacing Radiohead with Muse and the Manics with Looper. Or maybe they could wait for the 80s retro in a few years time........
Potentially excellent, but the songs are just too long, dark and dated for this particular journo.
Stephen Chapman - Unbarred student magazine
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