From the outset of ZAM, the new album from Frankie and the Witch Fingers, it’s clear that the psych rock outfit have been knocking back the black milk. Scan the track titles here and it reads like serious voodoo shit has been going down.
‘Dracula Drug’, ‘Cobwebs’, ‘Dark Sorcerer’, ‘Head Collector’, (and okay another) ‘Purple Velvet’ make clear a path that subjects explored are often fantasy, and fantastic in scale. Weighing in at just over one hour long, ZAM is not an album that hurries to make it’s point.
Psyche and garage rock are always inclined to be fuzz-heavy. That’s true here. There’s not an item in the landscape that isn’t filtered through, or touched by a gravely pedal of one kind or another. But wait, the texturing here isn’t all left to just one perspective. There are undulations through this album, where guitars suddenly shine through the mist, where snares suddenly snap with precision. Beneath the shimmering sludge there is a structure that leans heavily on funk. None of the hypnotic value is lost, but rather added to for the strutting angles on display.
Title track, ‘ZAM’ is the third-longest track on the album. It’s over eight minutes long – so yeah, you kinda know what to expect elsewhere. This thing thrusts itself along. Like much of the album this song is driven like it’s stolen. The pace is almost too incredible. Spiraling guitar licks, splash cymbals that barely hold it together, but at heart there’s funk. There’s shapes here that come from the ’70’s and throw weird shadows into the contemporary sound. Vocals arrive at around the four minute mark – but they do nothing to temper the fever. Things simply escalate until we’re flailing around. It’s wonderful deranged stuff. The perfect flourish.
For all the boastful length that Frankie and the Witch Fingers indulge here, there’s a tiny nugget in the mass. A golden little track ‘I am’ takes a bite of definition. It’s principled, well-defined and, whilst still driven – bleeding at both ends into previous and following tracks – it shows that this is a band that knows how to land tight blows when they feel like it.
‘Underneath You’ follows ‘I Am’ and reveals some of the trickery that Frankie and the Witch Fingers are toying with. The sequencing here is on another level. The sprawling themes that inform each other call on references, foreshadow and flip over on themselves are rich. Instrumentally, alone, these tracks have an incredible arrogance – the good kind. The tight-trousered pouting that belongs in this kind of music, but it has some flavor of krautrock, and so a balance between elements is achieved. There are tonal signatures that call to each other through the album. Passages of lead single ‘Realization’ echo in progressions of the title track. Even in the closing ballad, ‘Head Collector’, the tones simmer beneath the surface.
With ZAM, Frankie and the Witch Fingers continue a path that has produced a string of albums, that slowly morph from one thing to another. No two albums sound the same, and yet, they are all uniquely of this band. The quality, and intention of these artists is sound. It should be turned up.
HURRY – BUY – FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS MUSIC