Levi Fuller
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Levi Fuller

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Corvine themed set has critic raving

Crows, it is said, are the most intelligent of birds (the evidence given for this is their propensity towards monogamy – you could of course take this as evidence for the reverse) anyway these coal black creatures are the inspiration behind this record. The crow is more easily associated with the Goth fraternity, the black plumage, the gathering in flocks, their harsh calls, here though we are in more gentle territory. Acoustic strums introduce ‘As the Crow Flies’ but with Brian Deck at the controls it's not long until he marshals a flock of instruments, soft hammers pecking away with percussive intensity. Aloft on thermals of organ ‘The Crows Are Getting Smarter’ flapping wings of menace draw on folkloric fear of the black-eyed avians. The real test of a set of themed songs is whether or not the concept overloads the songs, here it certainly doesn’t, the excellent short story quality of ‘Crow Lady’ has passages of great beauty that suggest the subjects wheeling lazily above a cornfield.

‘Crows Meeting’ is told from the birds perspective and delineates their contempt for their human counterparts, all the time the steady gentle pulse of the music is flecked through with subtle highlights like the sunlight catching the various textures on a crows wing. The record drips with atmosphere, the whisper of frost nipping your ears on a winters morning, throaty crow talk coming from the trees, the sense of place, the symbiosis and sense of place that we apparently share, ‘Canary : Coalmine :: Crow : ______’ has a funereal pace and an ecological message, guitar notes pile up on themselves like cockerels strutting and fighting, a Beefheartian blues riff turning on itself, a kind of I scream for crow. A lone banjo and some banged tin introduce ‘This Murder Won’t Hurt You’ the vocal hollered from a neighbouring field by an itinerant scarecrow deconstruct the collective noun for a gathering of crows.

Make no mistake this is a multi-layered undertaking full of wonderful metaphors and musical invention, a concept album about crows that everyone can love. - americana-uk.com


Readers of my column, if any, may have noted that I've taken a bit of an interest in crows in the past couple of years. So I'm predisposed to like this disc, which is a concept album based around crows and crow behavior. Levi Fuller is a local Seattle musician and songwriter working in an experimental folk vein. The hypnotic opening track "As the Crow Flies" weaves its spell with repeating acoustic guitar figures and vocal lines. There's some Phillip Glass-style marimba playing at the end of the crescendoing "Bread." Fuller injects some dark humor into some of the tracks: "The Crows Are Getting Smarter" and "Crow Meeting" both imagine crows rising up against humans. The latter is from a crow point of view, and the former imagines an unholy crow-dolphin alliance. The former track and the track that follows it, "Crow Lady," feature organ and have a 70s Pink Floyd feel to them. Fuller's deft acoustic guitar playing is featured again on "Eyeballs," which is a solo guitar piece until the last minute, when cello, heavy drums, and vocals come in. The disc melds the traditional and experimental in some different ways: "Canary : Coalmine :: Crow : _______" (a title that may induce SAT flashbacks) is slow-core alt-country, and the instrumentation on "This Murder Won't Hurt You" consists of banjo and what sounds like banging on a sheet of metal. Crows' behavior and intelligence makes them fascinating and slightly spooky creatures; Fuller's off-kilter music is well suited for his choice of subject matter—and vice versa. - Copacetic-zine.com


I don't play the guitar. I do own 2 acoustics and a banjo even - don't have the first notion how to work the damn things, but friends like to come by and strum / pluck 'em every now and then. If I did ever follow the notion I wanted to learn to master these wooden beasts, I'd say I wish I could manage the strings like Levi Fuller. Chiming and bending notes in ways a skilled player should, This murder is a peaceful gathering opens with the hushed & faint swirls of "As the crow flies" - with the ebony bird serving as the albums mascot & overall underlying theme. Having a knowledgeable set of ears and hands around when you're recording an album couldn't harm the path, and Fuller rounded up Brian Deck (yeah, I know!) to produce, mix & perform various instruments on This murder is a peaceful gathering.

Nowhere near as 'off-kilter'° as any of the Red Red Meat catalog (well, the title track comes close), this latest album from the talent that is Levi M. Fuller takes an acoustic base as bridge and - with Deck, I would presume - lays into, under and throughout the albums nine tracks an audible topography that really requires a still room, absolute focus or both to absorb. Take the exceptional fuzzed guitar solo that feeds into "Bread" and escapes through a field of distant percussion, stark cymbals and (I'm guessing) wood blocks. Fullers fitting tone (for an album skirting the reality that is death / murder), is both straight forward and the perfect companion to the array of subsonic layers captured on This murder.

Tracks that play out before you like a centuries past poem or mysterious short story (see:"Eyeballs" & "Migratory Habits", the later with a true Deck feel to it), I think Poe (Allen, Edgar) would have had this gentleman over for dinner and a eulogy had the dates seen fit.

Presented in a luxurious Stumptown pressed dual jacket, with multiple winged beings on the disc face - there is "little left to wish for" says this crow. - Slightly Confusing to a Stranger


LEVI FULLER AND THE LIBRARY
You know the dream where you walk off the edge of a cliff, fall hundreds of feet, and float safely to the desert floor? This is the soundtrack to that mental film. When Levi Fuller isn't lending his bassist's fingers to the Luna Moth, he's obsessing about crows and singing with meditative intimacy on his blues-tinged side project with friends the Library, who bring sandy percussion and atmospheric keys to the trembling lo-fi delight. - The Stranger


John Fahey awakens, crawling from the kitchen floor towards the bathroom. The dishes are coated thick with dust and scraped guitar strings, and when he greets the slick tile he murmurs about the state of affairs to no one there. Up comes musical memories, lovely but spinning in place and dimensions of grey. Did Califone play in the living room last night, with Evan Dando back on junk and guest-singing, leaving the electronic instruments at home? . . . - Bandoppler.com


. . . Several curious instrumentals warm the waters, the first being an anesthetizing acoustic number with slo-mo banjo and some theremin sounding whistle that leaves you with a sleepy grin. "How Many, How Often, How Soon" has the sparse feel and circles of a Vini Reilly composition, though it's got more direction than a whole column of Duruttis. To me, "The Other Little Engine" is more of a riverboat ride than a railbender. Either way, the travelers get held up by some obstacle and then manage to break free. But it's all for naught, as the punchline goes, "I think I can't/ I think I can't/ I think I can't/I knew I couldn't."

Fuller's untrained voice, vulnerable and unsure, is the vessel for his unique thought processes. The observations of "Enemies" introduce his startling insight, "I always wanted to have an enemy/but this isn't what I'd imagined/instead of sharp retorts and broken windows/and schemes of destruction/we have uncomfortable silences/places we can't go/and friends who don't know what to say to whom." The oddly sentimental "Tractor Beams Of Love" would have fit neatly into Ian McCulloch's Candleland. . . . The high points are capped by steel guitar, stomping and clapping. The Fahey tendencies will detract for some and draw others. . . .

-Ewan Wadharmi - Hybridmagazine.com


Discography

This Murder Is a Peaceful Gathering (released March 7, 2006) - currently going for adds on college radio across the U.S.
How Did I Get Here? (2003)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

In 2004, inspired by Seattle's ubiquitous Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus), Levi Fuller began work on his second album, This Murder Is a Peaceful Gathering, a collection of songs about crows. After several months of writing, he enlisted Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Califone, Fruit Bats, Ugly Casanova, Modest Mouse, etc.) to produce and mix, and with help from Gillian Lisée (Fruit Bats, Orso, Califone) and Gavin Gregory (Water Kill the Sun), the album was completed over the course of a week at Engine Studios in Chicago. Levi released This Murder Is a Peaceful Gathering on March 7, 2006.

Levi Fuller is originally from Boston, but he has lived in Seattle since the fall of 2001. Having played various instruments in various bands for several years, he began his solo career shortly after moving to Seattle. In the past few years he has become an integral part of Seattle's music community, playing out regularly, and starting new music projects such as Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly, a quarterly compilation of songs by artists from Seattle and beyond.