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Cincinnati’s Fracktura are still a very young and fresh band, and this excitement and enthusiasm for experimentation is a large part of the group’s appeal. Their latest EP Oculus is by no means an easy listen; it’s not something you can merely put on in the background and half-pay attention to. The four songs, drenched in atonality and progressive proclivities, demand a close listen, and even then it remains largely impermeable.
Karis Tucker’s vocals, although alluringly esoteric, are quite unlike anything else today, and they instead lean on innovations from the distant past. The largely A capella “You” relies on subtle techniques of medieval polyphony, and her style in general is similar to the Sprechstimme employed on Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (another deeply challenging work). The instrumentals seem at first to be fairly rooted in the conventions of prog rock, but in reality even they are completely detached from the world of pop. Although King Crimson is an influence to Fracktura, a song like “The Fear Peddler” is far closer to anything from the world of free jazz.
Oculus is at once disturbing, unsettling, and the tension at times is unbearable; but it is most importantly a work of art that will stay with the listener long after it is over. It is not something that can be digested easily, but it may be understood slowly with the passage of time.
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