Pin It

Taking Flight 

Fanfarlo's orchestral style soars higher than you'd expect it to

click to enlarge art14664.jpg

The power trio is dead. And Simon Balthazar of British band Fanfarlo isn’t exactly mourning its passing.

“I grew up in a house with no records but plenty of instruments. The kinds of instruments most people don’t expect — melodica, glockenspiel, clarinet. These are the ones we use in the band, the kinds I used in arrangements,” he says.

Fanfarlo, like hype darlings of years past (cough — Arcade Fire, Beirut — cough), throws the orchestral kitchen sink behind their warbling, wavering vocals, producing a beautiful mess of emphatic, driving sound.

“Using that kind of instrumentation was something we bonded over. For us there’s really no novelty about it. It’s not about us being different for the sake of it. It’s just what we do naturally,” Balthazar says, deflecting any implication that they are consciously aping the bombast and multi-instrumentalism of other bands.

“We often get the question ‘How did you decide not to be a guitar and drum band?’ and we just don’t know how to respond properly,” he adds. Plenty of bands recently have gone down that road and achieved great success — and Fanfarlo’s got the chops to give them some competition.

Like said contemporaries, Fanfarlo deals in ethereal, almost obfuscating lyrics.

“Each song is half-reality, half-dream and half-something else. I know I’ve run out of halves, but there you go,” Balthazar says.

With a somber, almost funereal baritone, Balthazar constructs stories of artificial lakes, drowned villages and reclusive magnates.

“With ‘I’m a Pilot,’ I was reading about Howard Hughes and his obsessive compulsion, how he’d record endless tapes and write endless lists. It’s the closest that any of the albums get to a love story — but it’s not a biographic song in any sense,” he says.

Cryptic, but he insists there’s method and reason for the conscious choice to embrace stream-of-consciousness writing and diffusive meaning: “I think, in general, when it comes to music I’ve always been quite interested in things I don’t understand. Some artists have started to lose their appeal when I’ve come to understand them. I think it’s important to not know the whole story, so you can add a piece of the puzzle yourself.”

Fanfarlo plays with April Smith and Kristen Marlo at the Knitting Factory on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7 pm. Free. All-ages. Call 244-3279.


  • Pin It

Latest in Music

  • Do the Math
  • Do the Math

    Minus the Bear has accomplished the tough task of making progressive rock accessible
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More than Labels
  • More than Labels

    Zakk Wylde's second solo record shows off his softer side, but it's just one part of his persona
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Rage On
  • Rage On

    The newly combined music festival Rage-Apalooza is the Viking's biggest event yet
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Duran Duran

Duran Duran @ Northern Quest Casino

Fri., Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Jeff Echert

  • Emerald Queen
  • Emerald Queen

    The prodigal daughter of the Pacific Northwest comes home again.
    • Jun 29, 2011
  • 'Deerhoof Vs. Evil,' Deerhoof
  • 'Deerhoof Vs. Evil,' Deerhoof

    The working man’s rock music has always been defined by artists like Bruce Springsteen who sing about the 9-to-5ers. But there’s something to be said for Tapes ‘n Tapes, a band workman-like in the way it consistently churns out solid tunes. If there’s such a thing as a bad Tapes ‘n Tapes song, it’s yet to be released.
    • Feb 9, 2011
  • 'Cardinals III / IV,' Ryan Adams
  • 'Cardinals III / IV,' Ryan Adams

    If you're not a Ryan Adams superfan, pass on this album.
    • Jan 12, 2011
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Still Celebrating

    Boy George and Culture Club paved the way for genre- and gender-bending rock stars
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • No Stopping Him
  • No Stopping Him

    Graham Nash has written songs that moved a generation, and he's still creating
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Pour Them
  • Pour Them

    Silver Treason continues to show off their country twang and attitude on debut album
    • Jan 7, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation