[sic] Magazine

Fos – Rock

“We don’t have a description for this album yet. Care to help?”
Last FM, on Rock by fos.

I was on a similar thought pattern. ‘Whoa, what the hell is this?’ I guess we can improve a bit on Last FM’s unwittingly withering summary. How much, I’m not quite sure.

Fos = London based Greek artist Katerina Koutouzi (who also founded the label) She could’ve made my job a lot easier by basing herself in Paris because this record is steeped in accordion. Now there are thousands of things to love about France – film, wine, food, culture and geography being prominent. The accordion, however, wouldn’t make my list. Sorry to say that for me the accordion is one of the most forlorn and wretchedly depressing instruments known. All this makes for a richly atmospheric record, albeit that the atmosphere in question is one I equate with gloom and despondency.

The album flickers between the traditional and contemporary. Opening track ‘Sunset’ is ultra-modern with its overlapping, Art Of Noise -esque, vocal samples. Then it’s back to her roots on ‘Thalassa Platia’. To think she called the record Rock! We should put the rock music genre out of our minds and think instead along the lines of folktronica, where the folk element is of traditional, Aegean island variety. In fact, the sea plays a huge role on Rock, as it does for any coastal community. I imagine the ‘rock’ is question is some kind of nautical outcropping, or at least a psychological point of stability in a shifting, uncertain environment.

These pieces are crafted with a huge degree of skill. To give an example, ‘Katharsi’ sounds at first like a marine field recording – a creaking fishing boat against a lapping tide, circled by seagulls. Except, I’ve seen something like this before. A Brussels jazz duo once performed something very similar on stage using nothing more than a double bass, accordion and recording device. The bellows were exhaled gently to imitate the tide, then looped to create that ebb and flow effect, micro movements on the bass strings/frets approximated the cries of gulls, while a box was subtly rocked to sound like old boat timbers. It was effective too. Highly realistic and hugely impressive. It just wasn’t what I’d call music.

I wish Koutouzi would sing more because her voice is very sensual. Maybe this record is better understood as a piece of art – performance art, captured on a recording? She has studied dance and choreography and I can imagine she might have created Rock with something balletic in mind. Fos may have a niche audience but I’ll wager that those fans will find much of this music delightful.