Reb Fountain – Iris (Flying Nun), a dream state & rebirth

Reb Fountain takes us into the rivers of the Bardo with fifth album Iris. The after-life or the dream state between death and rebirth. The album cover has a wild-haired Reb shot from behind. Looking up at a white light. Could be a stage light or the direction the Soul heads toward for a better world.

Reb FountainThe songs had their gestation over the course of the Lockdowns of 2020, when everyone experienced their own version of Bardo, and came to terms with a darkness that had instantly enveloped the world. The dream state and rebirthing from out of your cocoon into a butterfly were possibilities to look forward to.

Currently the theme song is Nowhere to Run. But we have this to enjoy.

Psyche. Who are we in this life? / Sailing under a bright star. Reb has an exceptional voice which manages to be powerful without volume. It is thin and precise, but cuts like a laser. Peels through skin and flesh painlessly to expose viscera like a still-beating heart. There is a deeper incantatory tone. And a higher piercing one. The Nick Cave/ Patti Smith influence is over all the songs. This is the base from which she lifts off with her own distinctive sound now.

Psyche is the sum total of the mind and consciousness. The soul, if you will. Psyche was a beautiful princess who fell in love with Cupid. She endured terrible trials to finally be with him.

Heart. The heartbeat is the soft but dominating rhythm. Every soul is heartbroken/ Arrow is loose in my heart. Soft Soul Jazz tones of the early Seventies. A little borrowed from the Stories Brother Louie.

Foxbright. A highlight with a beautiful floating dreamy Folk melody.  Just like Donnie Darko/ Gotta die to dream/ Will I make it to the morning?

Our entry into the themes on this album. Donnie Darko is a cult movie which came out in 2001. A young Jake Gyllenhaal stars. A mysterious movie about death, time travel, worm holes and the fabric of time. Set around a teenager who appears to be schizophrenic and his timid, bullied girlfriend. A murder and redemption wind through it. Having seen it repeatedly, it is still hard to grasp. Like most dreams.

All the songs on this album lead you into a place where dark themes are explored. The music is sparse Gothic Folk. Musicians include Dave Khan who plays different shades of violin and piano, and Simon Gooding on bass.

Reb looks and dances like a Goth Maiden on some of the videos to these songs.

Who is Beastie? A sinister little tale sung with some witchey relish and a licking of the lips. Don’t wanna have to rein you in now/ You leave me no choice. There is some spoken Rap Poetry in the middle. Laurie Anderson in tone with Patti Smith sentiments. Her voice can pierce in those higher registers and burn like a laser.

Beastie is your Double. The part of your soul who has to get you through the Bardo if you are to make it out.

Fisherman. The voice becomes soft, muted and conspiratorial. The violin plays haunting Appalachian Folk Country. Its keening a warning in the background. The song is full of Christian iconography. And then you hear… We came here two by two/ Called on me and you/ Fishing out bodies from the ocean for days/ No, they couldn’t be saved.

The song swells to a crescendo with strings and cymbal crashes.

A cover of Peggy Seeger’s Swim to the Stars adds counterpoint to Fisherman. Maybe the most beautifully sung song on the album. A classic Folk song of death and tragedy, it seems to be the story of the Titanic. Music as the redemption.

Lacuna. A rushing river drone rhythm evocative of Talking Head’s Once in a Lifetime.  The jagged electric guitar riffs at the end echo this also. The high vocal on the refrain lifts off.

Iris. She can sound like a Stevie Nicks coquette. Harmony and Lead vocals are sung sequentially. Maybe she is a Kiwi Emmylou.

The closing song is Intermission. A Velvet Underground riff from the quiet third album, let’s say from Ocean.  That hooks me immediately. This will be the last time/ Funny how the time flies/ When you fall in love and you can’t get up.

There is much to get lost in and a journey to be made. The artist with her crack collaborators binds you in a heavenly spell. That was the history of Lockdown Year Zero.

I wonder if Reb is still seeing the white light?

Rev Orange Peel               

Marty Duda recently interviewed Reb and and talked about Iris. Watch that HERE.

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