Sparklehorse + Fennesz
In The Fishtank 15
(2009, In The Fishtank)
RIYL = Fennesz and Sparklehorse, duh
My previous experience with dream collaborations has lead me to believe they don’t work. There is always a large gap between the possibilities you imagine that the collaborators will bring to the table and the music that actually ends up being produced. It is only when artists get lucky that they even fly slightly below the goodness of their solo work, but for the grand majority, the sum of their parts equates to much less than anything from the artists when striking out on their own. For me, the idea of Sparklehorse mixed with Fennesz, while an enchanting prospect within my own imagination, was destined to be a minor pothole in both artists’ beautiful discographies. But no! It appears that the deities of music are shining on us peasant folk, because In The Fish Tank 15 is the fulfillment of that imagined potential and I am so happy to have been proven wrong! Fennesz lends his fuzzy guitar-based snow drift and Sparklhorse his loner pop aesthetic for melting pot of aural goodness. The tracks seem to alternate back and forth between Fennesz and Sparklehorse in terms of whose hand is most prevalent, but there is still never anything wider than a 60/40 split in the tonal input. This is exemplified in the first two tracks. The album opener, “Music Box Of Snakes”, starts things of with a beautiful Fenneszian glitter, floating and bubbling perfectly with the addition of a signature Sparklehorse toy organ hovering in the background. This is followed by “Goodnight Sweetheart”, a slow moving, water logged ballad where Sparklehorse’s vocals emerge within Fennesz’s ethereal webbing. Sparklehorse’s downer pop really flourishes in the context of Fennesz’s atmospherics too. “If My Heart” takes on a gorgeous air with mix provided by the collaboration that would most certainly be less pronounced without Fennesz’s aid. It seems these two are just a match made in heaven. And, to top things off, both try their hand at a solo ‘guitar piece’ just to close things out. For the record, I think “Mark’s (Sparklehorse) Guitar Piece” wins, but hopefully they’ll have another chance at a showdown with future collaborations. Good stuff.