Visit Fauna at their Homepage

There is a sound out there, a musical form which I crave. The nature of this compositional style is one of ominous tranquility, a pleasantly ambient music that nevertheless promotes a dark undertonetone, not unhappy or evil, but carrying a subtle subtext of danger and energy, like a thunderstorm. The element is part noir, part cyberpunk, enjoying a healthy combination of major and minor chords and a sweet and sour mix of calm yet stressed emotional cues. The Supreme Beings of Leisure have this sound, although in a lounge/trip hop kind of way. Portishead came so close, but never quite pinpointed the noise. There was a group, The Infinite Posse, one of my very favorites (although I seem to be about the only person on earth who ever listened to them,) that was this sound, through and through.

Then one fine day, I put on a Los Angeles City station, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing at all. There it was! This lilting, coercive lushness, that sultry female vocalist. The band was called Fauna, and I was especially delighted to discover subsequently that one of their albums, Have U Ever Talked To Angels, was freely licensed under Creative Commons! It was two firsts, discovering a good Creative Commons artist through more maintstream avenues, and discovering one with a mix of releases both commercial and free (note, this second first has now become commonplace, but it was still novel at the time.)

The Fauna Project is staged from Kolomna, Russia. Its history is one of fickle collaboration and exploration, stretching out over a period of time closing slowly on two decades and what appears to have been a half dozen prior incarnations, but the music on their latest album reflects people who have had time to toy around with electronic sound for a few years.  The music reflects the experience. Though they claim to draw from many sources, the most recently listed influence of Future Sound of London seems to have had, to my ears, the most profound effect upon this album.

The music has a definite downtempo, triphop feel behind it, but remains seductive throughout. The melodies are classically electronic, repetitive but in an enjoyable, relaxing way, great for lounging or mixing. It suffers a bit of an indie feel, and by indie I mean like indie films, not the indie/alternative movement in music. A lot of the beats are severely constrained, turning otherwise organic atmosphere into almost a marching tune, but again I can’t help but feel that some of this music might have been designed specifically to be mixed, which would forgive, even promote this decision (Sasha wants some Fauna LPs.) Regardless of this element, the instrumentation and actual composition are both smooth as silk, and deserve appreciation.

For me, though, Fauna’s highlight has to be their vocals. In the past couple of months of pursuing free music, I have come to appreciate vocalists like never before. The number of times otherwise acceptable music has been suddenly and horribly turned on its head by the appearance of cruel, unrelenting vocals was starting to get downright depressing, frankly. It is a trend that Fauna has reversed with gusto. The lead female vocalist especially is a delight to encounter, and rather like Portishead,  Supreme Beings of Leisure and Infinite Posse, her talent takes what is already enjoyable music and really pushes it over the edge to exceptional.

Alas, ferreting out who is who on their bio page, which could use a copy editor like I could use a backup liver, proved too big a job for me, but if you want to take a swing at it, then by all means. In the meantime, if you’re looking for some relaxing downtempo sound, or something new and fun to mix or remix with, then definitely check out Have U Ever Talked To Angels.