Release Date: November 22nd, 2011
Reviewed By Evelyn Miska Krieger
There’s little doubt that the moniker under which former Tool bassist Paul D’Amour is now working is a bit odd. Even with the knowledge that the name comes from a science fiction novel by Iain Banks, it still may cause some double-takes. That said, a double-take isn’t always a bad thing since it implies there’s something unusual, something unique that is worth looking at again and not dismissing immediately. It is that very concept, the double-take, that is worth keeping in mind when encountering this album. It’s well worth that second chance.
Not that it’s much of a surprise, but Feersum Ennjin is a complex album. Beginning with “The Fourth” emphasizes how deceiving much of the album can be. It gives the initial impression of being a rather mellow, dreamy track, but about a quarter of the way into its eight minutes, the layers begin to appear and the addition of some darker, more intense sounds make it that much greater to wrap one’s mind around. Just when you think the song has given all it has, Feersum Ennjin develops “The Fourth” even more and that’s what much of the album is like, almost like one of those trains of thought that you have to track back to its origin. It’s all connected, but it isn’t always perfectly clear as to how it all links. “Fishing Grounds” keeps up that intensity as developed on “The Fourth” and has a greater immediacy than some of the other tracks.
The impatient or those with short attention spans may have some difficulty with the album as even the shortest songs on the album all exceed three minutes with most of them falling in the five minute range. “Dragon” is one of the shorter selections, but that doesn’t mean that it is light fare. Barreling along and driven by some enthusiastic drumming, the track merges electronica and rock for an interesting blend. There’s nothing lighthearted about this and there isn’t a chance that it could be confused for purely studio-produced pop. No, the edge here is sharp and significant.
At times there’s so much going on throughout Feersum Ennjin that it can be difficult to decide what to focus on. The drums? The electronic additions? The vocals? The best approach is to just let it wash over you, soaking up bits and pieces as they strike. Like many things, the depth of the album is more clear (and palatable) the more one becomes accustomed to the taste.