Fontanelle


biography
After the demise of Jessamine in 1998, guitarist Rex Ritter and keyboardist Andy Brown formed a new band called Fontanelle.  The band played some shows around their Portland, OR base and slowly refined their sounds while settling on a permanent lineup.  The quartet's guitar-keyboard-drums lineup enhanced the detailed, intricate workings of the music.

Fontanelle record at their home-based Magnetic Park Studio and then edit via computer. Many times the group will tape rehearsals and then gather around the computer editing, remixing and recombining the compositions and improvisations.

The debut album, Fontanelle, extends and develops the sound of the last Jessamine album, Don't Stay Too Long, taking the bubbling electric piano and synthesizers of that album into even more complex patterns.  Guitars and keyboards repeat looping, Reichian melodic lines over drums that can click into Can-type patterns or shift into a funky lope.

Melody and rhythm weave, bob and play off each other subtly. The music on  the F CD EP is taken from various sessions over Fontanelle¹s first 3 years, reflecting a variety of moods. By turns wirey and rubbery, the three keyboardist, two drummer, two guitarist line up creates complex, syncopated tunes that  reveal the band members' experience in improvised music [Charlie Smyth hosted a monthly improv night at Portland's Bijou Cafe]  electric drone [Andy Brown has released two CDs under the Southerning monicker], IDM style electronics [Brian Foote and Mat Morgan play and record as Nudge] and noise electronics [Paul Dickow records as Strategy, contributes drums and keyboards to Nudge and was a member of Portland area improv/punk band Emergency].

Style Drift was the second full length LP, released in the fall of 2002.  A series of drummers came in and out of the lineup, yet Fontanelle retained both rhythmic heft and complexity.  Rex Ritter told Tower Pulse! magazine in 2002 that:

    "..we took the actual live playing and converted it to MIDI notes and then re-manipulated while it was playing the phrases.  We don't really talk about what we're going to play beforehand.  And then, it's just a matter of what sounds good later and then we try and cut out sections that aren't interesting to us.  Generally it's kind of a round robin on the computer.  We'll all be in the room sort of listening and as one person has an idea, and wants to execute it, they'll step in and execute it."

In an utterly unexpected development since the release of Style Drift, Rex Ritter joined the touring incarnation of the throb-doom metal colossus Sunn and worked with the band in the studio.  And former Jessamine singer/bassist Dawn Smithson recently donned a hood and played with Sunn as well.  Jessamine and Sunn have played together.  Brian Foote and Paul Dickow released the second Nudge album on Tigerbeat 6 to well-deserved acclaim and Dickow presented kranky with a finished Strategy album.  Jessamine continue to practice and record, as well as play the odd show in Portland.  Most recently they have experimented with drumless composition, so the future is wide open.

    "Fontanelle¹s sensitive, flexible combination of keyboards, drums and guitar matures into a collage of rubbery, wirey near-hypnosis."
     Amy Schroeder, XLR8R
    "What is this?  Improvisation? Soft voiceless funk? Space jazz? Aesthetic fraggle rock with song structure?  Who knows?  And when it's this good who cares.  The gold of the music industry is when an album transcends classification and Fontanelle has hit paydirt."
     Adam Jones, Offbeat  (Australia)  Sept. 2001

kranky titles available
Style Drift
F
Fontanelle

see also
Strategy - Drumsolo's Delight
Jessamine - Don't Stay Too Long
Jessamine - Long Arm of Coincidence
Jessamine - Jessamine