FZY – Act 4: Floating – Album Review
If you want a surefire way to know whether or not you fucked up writing a review, you can be sure it’s when an artist or band tells you something to the effect of “next time I’ll make sure to include ______” immediately after you wrote one.
Such is life. I don’t always get things right…and those of you that have ever gotten a review on this or that in whatever it is you do, have likely already found out that whatever’s the most important to ya is probably the one thing the person reviewing ya didn’t even comment on. If only we could squeeze everything in every time I tell ya. We can’t. I don’t. I am human and reminders of that are good things.
Of course, not everything is left out by being forgetful or not thinking about it…sometimes things are left out by omission specifically…sometimes they’re not the main feature we’d like to think they are. I can’t really remember what it was about the last FZY album that didn’t have me commenting on lyrics & such – I remember Act 3: The Buried not being my favorite record from FZY, an artist that I really fucking dig, but that’s about all. Anyhow. Rest assured, I’ve got my copy of the lyrics here this time…and for what it’s worth, I feel like this dude is back at the top of his game with another incredible record here. Act 4: Floating has arrived…word on the street is that I might even have my copy before it’s even online.
What can’t help but be noticed at the very start as FZY’s new record begins, is that he doesn’t even take on the vocal duties of the first track…it’s a totally different voice, female, and outright amazing. This is effectively bridging the gap though…to me, “At The Surface” not only showed significant growth as an artist in terms of letting a few elements of control go & having someone else sing his songs, but the sound of what we hear found its way into the space between what I used to love most about FZY’s tunes and his more recent penchant for taking things in a much more analog based direction. Understand that, more or less, when I first crossed paths with this dude, he was pretty much a rapper of sorts; he’ll still go on to flex that gear at points, but he’s genuinely morphed his career to a much different design. The last record has heavier than heavy…so yes, believe me when I tell ya, the melodic & dreamy vibes of “At The Surface” were instantly more than welcome to my ears. Excellent guitar tones in addition to the ideas on display…the vocals are a perfect fit, and the lyricism is as mired in the murk as we know FZY’s tortured words to be. “At The Surface” immediately has you believing this could very well go on to be his best record yet…and that’s saying quite a bit, considering how much I love this dude’s back catalog.
“From The Depths” is a perfect example of what I’ve been saying regarding how FZY has become a hybrid of his past material. With nearly the whole first minute of this cut being instrumental, and “From The Depths” only being about 2:40 in total length…believe me when I tell ya, if it was ANY other artist out there, I’d be looking at the amount of words on the page and laughing at the idea that someone could get’em all in with only about a minute & forty-five seconds to make it happen. Now…because it’s FZY, and this dude rocks a microphone the right way with focus, frantic energy, and relentless precision – you’ll find he’s STILL got room to spare, stretch his legs and spread on out before this track is over – and honestly, that’s impressive. It’s no small task to be able to get the amount of words out that he’s got laid out in this short timeframe, let alone having them not exactly be the easiest to spit out either. For example: “Dispersing into raindrops, hail like rocks / not a single one hurting me / Liquid barrier, virus carrier / My Mind grows scarier / Now that Luckʼs sharing her / Thoughts with these other ears
/ Staring from the back trying to relax while realizing my other fears.” It’s poetic in detail, it’s complex and thought-provoking…FZY’s contemplating existence and life all-around as he rips “From The Depths.” Personally, I was already stoked on this cut from the instrumental beginning – having the man return to the mic at full force was very much the cherry on top for me; this dude’s the very definition of authentic.
From the sounds of things, he’s been experimenting with the looping station throughout the songs on this record. Well…experimenting before we got to the recorded stage of course…you get what I mean. It’s working for me though…and I’d imagine it’ll work for you too…there’s something remarkable about repetition when it’s done right. Looping can be an extremely innovative art as well if you’re doing it right – and I’d certainly argue on FZY’s behalf that he IS. He’s definitely got some great backup enlisted to assist him throughout this record…vocals on “At The Surface” and “Echoes” are a stunning fit for the music that he’s making, and it’s been awesome to hear his work audibly evolve as much as it has for Act 4: Floating. And that’s really where I come in anyhow…I can tell ya that I really like what I’m hearing. As for having the lyrics…people often equate that to something like, ‘Okay…so…now you’ve got’em, and everything is illuminated, right? Everything makes sense now – doesn’t it?’ And heck NO…that ain’t the way it works…not at all. Like I couldn’t tell ya if “Echoes” was about FZY’s life experiences, was fictional, about the Donner Party or the incident at the Dyatlov Pass. We can theorize all we wanna…and sometimes I do…mostly where I come in handy is by recognizing what will work not just for my ears, but for the ears of the other people out there listening as well. For example…I like the words for “Echoes” – but that’s not what sells it for me, so much as it’s HOW the words themselves are sung in such a noticeably artistic way here on this song. Thanks to the performance, “Echoes” becomes outright fascinating if I’m being real with ya…and personally, I’m loving the amount of space that exists between the music and vocals on this record – FZY’s not only made smart choices in terms of who’s singing what, but he’s really let the instrumentation have a deserved moment in the spotlight for it to be recognized.
I hear the melodic tones of “Dream Shift” and immediately know I’ll be on solid ground. “And now I now itʼs simple to see, but younger me had trouble envisioning / The state of immorality within the masses. / Humanity became the nightmare living in my dreams.” In many ways, that seems to somewhat sum up a lot of what Act 4: Floating seems to be about at its core…it’s an examination of what makes our hours awake anything more real than our dreams…about what makes death any less real than the experience of life itself…that kind of thing…at least I think…I’m short on about twenty degrees in Philosophy to be entirely sure, but that’s what I seem to be picking up as a recurring theme. Trying to connect with the person that we are, like we’re observing ourselves from an out of body experience…maybe that’s it – like I said, lyrics are only ever gonna help us so much, and even when we’ve got’em right in front of us, we’re gonna spit out a million theories that could still be completely 100% wrong. I revert right back to my lane – I can tell ya that “Dream Shift” is one of my favorite cuts on this record for sure…it’s barely over two minutes in total, but it makes an incredible impact, right from the very first notes of the guitar to the way that FZY stylistically hits the vocals on this track. Full proof that songs don’t need to be as long as we often think they need to be in order to make an impact on us. Kind of like LIFE ITSELF when you look at it that way! Hey! I’m philosophizing! Maybe I can hang with this record somehow after all.
Like I was mentioning earlier – there’s lots of time taken for the musicianship and instrumentation on this record…and it MATTERS yo. FZY’s such a versatile talent and master of his own universe, that to label him as any one kind of artist would prove futile in heartbeat, if not at the very least track after track as any of his albums play on sequentially. “01120411” is the first of three tracks that are exclusively instrumental on this particular record…and in the middle of Act 4: Floating, this cut kind of becomes a quick reset or sonic intermission of sorts so you can collect your bearings before the album’s second half. You’ll also get two more instrumental tracks on Act 4: Floating before everything wraps up. This one’s an audible appetizer & just over a minute in total length…not the record’s defining moment.
As to whether or not this album refers to a time where FZY himself fell beneath the layers of ice and almost died…I think that’s probably safe to say that’s the case, based on the tale he’s been threading throughout the material. Ultimately, that seems to have put him into an NDE…much similar to stories you would have heard from others in that same situation…and obviously, if this IS the case, we’re all glad he found his way out to do what he’s doing today…because this dude belongs in the studio, making music. Or maybe he’s got a thing about asphyxiation…like I said, I don’t really know the full story, and FZY is notoriously one of the hardest artists to pin down, even with the full spread of lyrics right in front of me. We can only guess what’s fact and what’s fiction…but the vast majority of us, tend to write about what we know. When you combine the content of his words, with FZY’s inherent franticness, you start to latch onto the sense of urgency he’s feeling, likely each and every day. As in…it’s not just important to get all these words out as quickly as possible – it’s outright crucial…because he’s got that feeling like there might never even BE another opportunity – make sense? Again…this is all just me theorizing & whatnot…I’m got no definitive proof…but hopefully having these lyrics in front of me has at least helped a little bit. Otherwise I’m just murkin’ up this review trying to do things that don’t come as naturally to me and y’all get to be my guinea pigs suffering as I fumble my way through it all. Anyhow. “Shadows Under The Ice” comes with an epic vibe to it…a bit heavy and more dramatic in spirit & energy than some of the rest by comparison as well, which again, likely communicates the intensity of this moment. Great use of dynamics in this tune overall, including a large breakdown that is probably an audible clue to the clarity we’re feeling in the moments where we’re closest to death, clinging on to life to survive.
All that being said, the most epic cut of the bunch is without a doubt, “Flash Of Realization” – a track that spans generously over eight minutes in length. Here’s where we realize that FZY’s communicating his thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the aftermath at least…that this whole scenario he’s been depicting is something that he has lived through, and come back from it as a changed person. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s put a chip on his shoulder so much as I’d say it’s made him understand the importance of every moment. From the sounds of things on this record and on “Flash Of Realization,” he’s still revisiting much of this situation daily, every time he closes his eyes, floating between dreams and nightmares without as much control of what’s what as he might like to enjoy. “I can talk or mumble while within the rubble / But if all you see is bubbles, you could never hope to hear me.” Chances are, the vast majority of us DO see the bubbles…I think we’re all just smart enough to know there’s more underneath the surface, even if we don’t have the faintest clue as to what it really is. Think of it this way FZY – most real artists are misunderstood anyhow, as they say…and the same is quite likely true of the main star of the show here…I think we all get the depths of meaning he’s putting into his material, even if we don’t actually know what it all means – make sense? Clear as mud? Good good. Anyhow. A track like “Flash Of Realization” is really representative of the kind of versatile artist that FZY truly is…like, it’s essentially very closely related to progressive tunes when you consider how many different parts there are and all that’s involved in making a song of this magnitude. I’m heckin’ into it though, I gotta say. I think it’s always going to be somewhat natural that we end up with our favorite individual pieces here & there, but I think what I really liked most about “Flash Of Realization” was just how wall-to-wall solid this song seriously IS. Like, if I did find a piece that I felt had the edge, I’d probably feel a different piece would be my favorite the next time I listened, so on & so on…and that’s one really rad ‘problem’ to have in the music you’re listening to, ain’t it? “Flash Of Realization” is an extremely well written tune from start to finish…visionary level type-stuff y’all, no joke. From the curiosity inducing beginning of the mysterious melody it opens with, to the kickassness of the guitars & the punch of distortion & drums as it rumbles into place, to the stylistic vibes of the bars placed within “Flash Of Realization” – you won’t find a damn thing out of place, and considering how much this song morphs as it plays on, it’s wildly impressive. While I usually end up being drawn more towards the undeniable hooks of FZY’s tunes, a track like “Flash Of Realization” IS a hook unto itself…because that’s what genuinely INTERESTING sound can be like to experience. Every time this song came on again, I was hooked from start to finish, and practically on the edge of my seat as I listened; the execution is as staggering as the uniqueness is, 100%. And can we give this man some damn credit for his incredible rhythm & flow when he shreds these bars – please? FZY’s such a remarkable talent that it’s always tough to put it properly into the right words.
Maybe these songs have all been about killing a certain part of himself in order to let the other parts live – you might infer that from something like “Ego Death” towards the end of Act 4: Floating, the very last song on the album that features vocals. Another genius switch in sound…you gotta love the fact that, we hardly even flinch as listeners when it comes to the fluidity of an album like this…it’s actually really damn impressive when you realize just how different one cut will be from the one that played before it. While there aren’t too many words in this last cut, “I’m not alone, I’m still alive” rings true with this final theory about separating parts of ourselves…this whole catalog that FZY is creating could very well speak to his evolution not only as an artist, but as a human being. Songs like “Ego Death” would then represent not only the growth, but the things we have to leave behind sometimes in order to achieve that growth…sometimes there are things about ourselves that hold us back, and the ego can very much be one of them for many people out there. I mean…think about it for a second y’all…chances are, you know someone that you’ve described as egotistical before…and you probably didn’t make that assessment in a complimentary way, you following me? It’s not the greatest part to our personality, yet it’s almost inescapable overall…at some point, somewhere, we all as individuals tend to recognize our greatness and celebrate it probably a bit too much. And if you’ve NEVER done any of these things, or ever felt like someone you know is ego-driven or narcissistic…my friend…that person would be YOU. All that being said…I felt like “Ego Death” represents the aftermath once again…the realization that, once it’s gone, there’s a whole other level to this existence we’re living out loud…and a plain we can be much more comfortable with than we’d ever think. Beyond words really…which is perhaps why the final two tracks on Act 4: Floating are completely instrumentals…FZY has reached that next phase of his evolution. Anyhow…all-in-all, all theories aside, “Ego Death” is one seriously addictive EDM-infused cut to listen to.
Like a tape melting in the sun at first, “Finding The Light” and its beautifully warped melody can’t help but hit you in the heartstrings somewhat…especially considering the emotional ride that this record really ends up putting us through. Willingly, I should add…there’s not a solitary second of Act 4: Floating that I didn’t enjoy – and these instrumentals at the end were like the final cherry on top. “Finding The Light” has that quintessential Post-Rock vibe goin’ on…the kind of stuff that bands like Explosions In The Sky built their entire careers around & rightly so. The melody is superb and extremely tangible…and in general, it’s freakishly PEACEFUL for what you probably know FZY’s music to be. It felt like “Finding The Light” is the sound his soul has been endlessly yearning for & searching for…and that he finally found it. I know I’ve claimed to have a few favorites along the way, but you’ll have to forgive me if I add another – “Finding The Light” is so stocked & loaded with tangible emotion that we FEEL every second of this song.
“Entering The Light” is pretty much equally rad, but nearly for the opposite reasons…this is just a genuine moment of audible kickassery, with stellar ideas to its production, and a killer riff at its core that is as mean as it is lean. Overall, FZY plays this final cut extremely smart…if you’re listening closely, it’s not like there’s a monumental amount to it…a lot of the interest to our ears is achieved through the cleverness of his production and his curiosity inducing methods of making music. From the riffs keeping you tied to the present…to the ambience in the atmosphere at the end, you feel like FZY makes that final transition from wild soul to ethereal spirit in this last track…and the creativity you’ll find here is ABUNDANT y’all…to say the very least. There’s never been a doubt in my mind that this artist is fully capable of moving us in a tremendous variety of ways, and these last two instrumental tracks certainly confirm that. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya all along…at the end of the day, I really only know what sounds good to my ears – and that’s all I’ve ever claimed to know in the reviews I write…anything else is just some wild theory I came up with, or going with the flow of where the music takes my mind. I don’t know if I figured out FZY any more with lyrics than I ever did without’em if I’m being truthful with you – but I don’t think that’s ever going to stop me from listening to him. Act 4: Floating IS one of his best records to-date without a doubt…for the material…for the production…for the performances…for the IDEAS involved and the multiple ways HE has evolved as an artist both inside and outside of the music.
Find FZY’s music at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5BRYHAcjGVPXQQv4raRSIS
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