At first disquieting and then reassuringly warm, the opening track to Fringe Magnetic’s Clocca sets the tone for Fringe Magnetic’s third and final album. The album cover doesn’t do a bad job either, a creepy night-time scene featuring a girl in the woods with a flaming torch, like something out of one of those fairy tales that are both gruesome and magical.
A large super-group of brilliant musicians, Fringe Magnetic incorporates trumpet, flute, piano, clarinet, bass clarinet, cello, violin, double bass, drums and even vocals in their undefinable music. The music can sound like a small jazz quartet, and then slip into cross-over classical territory, but the jazz sound isn’t obviously the core. Instruments like the flute and piano bridge the gap and take the lead for a modern classically sound at times.
‘Cross the Border’ is the one of three vocal tracks on the album, and the delicate, almost ethereal quality of Elisabeth Nygaard’s voice over the opening long chords is slightly reminiscent of Portico Quartet’s ‘Steepless’. It’s a haunting track whose staccato melody works as a lovely contrast against the instrumental accompaniment. The opening track ‘Only a Poltroon’ is another standout, as is the upbeat ‘Buffalo,Buffalo,Buffalo’.
The range on Clocca is impressive. The other songs on the album featuring vocals are poles apart. ‘Stitched in and back under’ is almost on the cusp of rock and ‘Confess Desires’ is almost instrumental, with words taking a backseat to sounds and shapes right until the last moment and then everything changes, just when you thought you had your feet on solid ground.
Fringe Magnetic are clearly a fantastically talented group. Led by trumpeter Rory Simmons, the pieces on their final album are a showcase of both performance and composition. This probably isn’t going to be the easy-listening cosy album you snuggle up to with a sherry this Christmas, but it’s not going to be one you get tired of – the texture and depth of these pieces are ready to be heard a hundred times in a hundred different ways – this is album for the long run.