Album review: "Rooms Filled With Light"
By Geoffrey Himes
Friday, Mar. 2, 2012
When rock bands add violin to the mix, it's usually as a harmonic sweetener, a bit of Viennese frosting. But Fanfarlo's violinist, Cathy Lucas, constructs rhythmic riffs like a guitarist - short, quirky, repeating phrases that prod more than they placate. Trumpeter Leon Beckenham adds similar but different phrases as does guitarist Simon Balthazar. Much of the pleasure of Fanfarlo's second album, "Rooms Filled With Light," is the way these musical figures jostle against one another and ultimately align like puzzle pieces forming a picture.
Singer-songwriter Balthazar has come up with lyric themes that fit this approach. On "Replicate," he sings of feelings buried deep inside us like viruses that replicate themselves and multiply like Lucas's and Beckenham's parts. On "Deconstruction," he sings of dissecting a whole into its constituent ingredients, even as small pieces are assembling to construct the backing track. "It comes together again sometimes," Balthazar croons.
This album buzzes more than the London band's 2009 debut, with electric guitars replacing acoustic ones and electric keyboards suffusing everything. But these amplified textures create added contrast with the classical sounds of the violin and trumpet, and every few measures a new part with a new tonal color is added to the puzzle.