Dave Fischoff: The Ox and the Rainbow
At first listen to his sophomore full-length THE OX AND THE RAINBOW, it may seem that Dave Fischoff has more in common with New Zealand's finest hard-to-peg songwriters such as the brothers Peter and Graeme Jefferies (and their This Kind Of Punishment and Cakekitchen projects), Alastair Galbraith and godfather of bruised soul Pip Proud, than any of his American brethren. Perhaps it's the insular loner vibe that radiates from the songs -- the overlapped vocals, the self-sequenced drum beats and background tape accompaniment. Or maybe it's just the way his voice hits the air like hot caramel in a vat of milk. Yes, his vocal delivery is quite kiwi. But on THE OX AND THE RAINBOW, the signature New Zealander tape hiss which was ever-present on Fischoff's debut WINSTON PARK is missing along with the Xpressway air of deep alienation. No, these eight new songs are sober realist portraits which rarely delve into the first person, but rather stake a significantly distant perspective from which Fischoff observes his subjects. The result is Kafka-esque in tone, but with a clinical dose of sentimentality. The songs on THE OX AND THE RAINBOW range from the spare and frail beauty of "We Break Up and Watch the Angels Swim", "The Doctor Yawns for Columbus Day" and the gorgeous atmospheric ballad "Geranium", songs which most closely resemble Fischoff's early material; to the pomp and circumstance of "Propaganda for a Comic Strip" which is an all-out Electric Company-styled Spector-sized pop tune; and the blind-siding "Blemish and a Bowl of Oranges" which perfectly subverts his Chan Marshall-like guitar playing under a bed of sequenced pulses and bells, making a claim for most outstanding song on the album. Indeed, for anyone who has witnessed one of Fischoff's arresting live performances, this record will stand as proof that it's on albums where musical artists are really given the space to open up and create lasting pieces of art. As with contemporary album-crafters such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Jeremy Enigk and East River Pipe, Fischoff relishes the opportunity, and with THE OX AND THE RAINBOW he has offered up a truly unique record that looms somewhere just south of Where The Fuck Did That Come From.