I found out about Son Fish through some variety of Googling, and I was surprised by the fact that he is based out of Ripon, CA. Son Fish is a primarily electronic-based project that also incorporates guitar and acoustic drums. When I caught the live performance of this EP, Dustin Carpenter (Son Fish) was behind the kit, backed by guitarist Travis Miller and keyboard/bassist Ty Wieland. This EP, MMXII, is an audio/visual release, and at the bottom I have linked the Youtube video which contains the full EP with video.
MMXII is rooted in heavy ideas, which is made clear in the Youtube link’s description. There aren’t tracks per se, but there are section names which act as subject headings for the music on display. The sounds themselves are a heady mix of iPhone apps, keyboards, synths, drums, effects-laden guitar, and samples. The arrangements are rich, and work by alternating avalanches of noisily melodic solos and lush aural landscapes that must surely play in the headphones of a cosmic farmer tilling Saturn’s rings. There aren’t too many tricks: dubstep wobbles don’t creep in, nor does anything approaching a dancey pop beat appear. The music is soundtrack-like, though the video is not necessarily the film the music implies.
The visual aspect came about as “concept based on providing a live experience, high quality audio, and healing colors and shapes to raise a participants consciousness for the benefit of all. After seeing how information should be free, how fans can’t always make shows, and the overall bloodsucking dynamic of the corporate Mcmusic world,” the visual was created. The video is reminiscent of Son Fish’s live show, as it showcases Dustin playing music in the studio interspersed with psychedelic light play. I was distracted by the music’s tendency to not sync up with Son Fish’s playing, and some shots seemed to be too documentary-ish and dark. I can’t say it does full justice to seeing Son Fish’s live show, which is replete with lasers, fog machines, and many glowy things, though of course the point of the video is to compensate for those who can’t see it live. I enjoyed the music more without the video, as I’m distracted easily, and listening with eyes shut was simply more fulfilling; though this isn’t a straight criticism, as the beauty of the audio/visual EP is that it provides the option.
The music itself is emotional, abstract, and reaches for weighty concepts. It is a success, and the release should give some momentum to Son Fish, perhaps leading to expanding on the EP with a yet longer creation that may inspire partnerships with a variety of visual artists. So listen to and watch the video below.