Here’s another fascinating release from the CODA label. I say fascinating because Frugivores’ New Age Songs vacillates between a thin line of taste. As you listen to the album initially, one doesn’t know whether to truly recommend it as a listen. But as the album continues, one hears certain songs, forcing you to fire up the old WordPress account and recommend away. What exactly am I recommending? It’s a selection of songs from this album that mix Carnatic music, neofolk, and electronic new age styles in a way that’s truly striking and different.
Frugivores was an English duo led by Tymon Dogg (going by Tymon Murray here) and Helen Cherry (who later became his wife). Tymon Dogg was the much more known of the two, famously lending his violin playing and singing to Clash songs like “Lose This Skin” off Sandinista!. Repaying one of his earliest believers, it was Joe Strummer who invited Tymon to contribute his voice/music years after helping him out when he was truly down on his own luck. It wasn’t that much sooner that a once failed musical career restarted with equal, fiery punk spirit now speaking more of reviving than destructing. All of that brings us to this, the unlikeliest of album to release after his contemporary debut Battle of Wills.
It’s not often you’ll listen to protest music trying to get to that rarefied place where it sounds like it’s trying to rise above the ugly world that’s railing against it. Sharing that same squeezing vocal range that Roger Wootton from Comus exhibits, Tymon transform this quality in a way speaking less of frustration, fright, or anger, and more about waking the hell up, feeling self-worth, putting thought to action. That thought helps feed my other attraction to this album. Simply hearing that sonic interplay between reverb and electronics, when the sometimes droning, sometimes yearning, open-tuned Eastern-influenced electric violin of Tymon Dogg oversteps boundaries found in his and Helen Cherry’s vocals, allowing them to bend toward its overreach, finding something sublime (almost hymnal) in the process. So, find the striking songs in New Age Songs. Elegant grace notes of humanity are always worth your time––and my time, I believe.