“Occult Vibrations” (ACR version)[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Lungfish_Occult_Vibrations_version.mp3|titles=Lungfish: “Occult Vibrations” (ACR version)]
The website for independent record label Thrill Jockey jokes and/or asserts that post-hardcore progenitor Lungfish is “enshrined as one of America’s last true folk bands.” Digging into the vaults, Dischord Records’ latest release shows that the group’s hidden relics still have potency, folk or otherwise.
With a stripped-down production style, ACR 1999, a session from ’99 that was recorded by Craig Bowen at Baltimore’s ACR Studios, is a good Janus-faced album that looks towards the past and future of Lungfish, amplifying the band’s nuances while fostering a warm sonic simplicity.
For long-time fans, ACR 1999 provides a look at arrangements of familiar songs from the Necrophones album that shortly followed in 2000. But it also offers four new songs to keep things interesting, and in the rhythmic lyricism of “I Will Walk Between You” and the abstract soundscapes of “Aesop” — two of the new tracks — we hear hints of where Daniel Higgs and Asa Osborne would veer after 2005.
The ACR cuts have a distinctively raw sound, displaying subtle production choices that stand out against the more complex manipulation of Necrophones. For a band like Lungfish, holding such a vast experimental potential, it’s good to revisit the power of simple production to highlight the musical aptitude of each member of the group. After some of the unrestrained aural investigations that Higgs and Osborne have fashioned under various monikers, it’s interesting to see how their unique visions are shaped through more standard forms.