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Shoulder and hand injuries have shelved Atlanta guitarist Richard Coker’s punk and folk career – to sample it, head over to CD Baby and procure Crumsy Pirates’ two crackling LPs, 2004’s Offensive (released in 2014) and 2010’s Fascism Sucks (both fronted by his Penelope Houston-evoking wife, Tracy Van Voris), and his contemplative 2011 solo album Taiga. But his instrumental synth LPs keep coming – Fey is his eighth since 2012, following 2012’s Stellar Objects, 2013’s Archaic, 2014’s Veridian and Evolve, 2015’s Circuit and CV, and 2016’s Particle. Yet despite Coker’s Robert Pollard-like prolificacy, his albums never feel rushed or repetitive. To wit, Fey shuns the snappy, stick-in-your-head melodies of 2016’s earlier Particle, in favor of more irregular, off-kilter intonations.
Though Fey’s 13 succinct songs are named for fairies of English folklore (on past albums, Coker’s compositions had been thematically titled after stars/stellar objects, Middle Eastern civilizations, green stones, evolutionary biology terms, microcircuitry components, trig functions, and quarks/leptons), they mostly summon sci-fi soundtracks. For example, the wheezy “Fir Darrig” and windswept “Alp Luachra” mimic bleeping Star Trek bridge panels, while the calming “Coblynau” conjures Lost in Space lunar landings. The dramatic, brass-replicating synths that blare in the background of “Leanan Sidhe” even beckon the opening fanfare of composer Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, famously used in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
You’re also delicately deluged with dollops of skewed sounds, as on the clanging “Bean Nighe,” thumping “The Green Children,” and pattering “Asrai,” which all imitate the inner mechanisms of old wind-up clocks and toys. And on “Glaistig” and “Bwca,” hints of ominous, out-of-tune haunted house organs hover throughout. Elsewhere, the warm, pulsating bass throbs of “Gwyllion” and gently whooshing breezes of “Gwragedd Annwn” are punctuated by (what sounds like) timidly tapped chimes or wineglasses, while the spastic, loopy rhythms that ricochet through “Cluricaun” seem to simulate the always-drunk demeanor of the tune’s leprechaun-like titular creatures. Thus, Fey feels like a fusion of futuristic space flights, fanciful fairylands, and far-out carnival funhouses. (cdbaby.com/rkich25)
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