Following on from his 2015 LP Everything Stays the Same, Paxton Fettel affords us another prescription of his finest medicine in Nothing Stays the Same. As the contrasting title indicates, Fettel’s musical pallet has shifted from a tone of free and careless contemporary indifference to that of nostalgia. Retaining the cosmic synthesizers and lo-fi effects found in his previous works, Fettel’s music returns to the jazzy, improvised roots of dance music.
In the opening track, a set of melancholic keys weaves through a series of over-poeticised vocals laden with clichés about people in boxes, “afraid to be themselves”. If there was a hint of irony in his words, the speech might be forgiven; all the same, though Fettel falls down on his narrative in words, he makes up for it in his music.
‘A Morning Crystal Clear’ tickles its way into the ears. Sober keys improvise over a jazzy frame, as harmonious oscillations fill the sparse atmosphere. Wistful summer memories seem intrinsic in the composition—those indefinite blissful recollections perfectly recalled in the slightly-dated vocals, wordlessly shifting to a sequence of syllabic ‘ahhs’.
In ‘Aurora’, rattling breaks and menacing bass notes crack through the sun-washed nostalgia. Seashores, birds and drifting synths hold the sentiment of the record, albeit with a certain urgency that sustains itself throughout.
‘Let Go’ signals a vivid new soundscape. A vocal sample intellectually evokes the cosmos unraveling in auditory hallucinations. Slinking moodily through a funk-infected Mars, disco riffs wriggle out of a diced and syncopated interplanetary boogie. ‘Truffle Magic’ sees the familiar solos and loops turn manic, though the magic begins to wear thin for a time. ‘Cloudlifter’ manages to restore focus, positioning an evocative set of keys undercut with a 4/4 punch, though the saxophone cameo serves to no great shakes.
Last but one, ‘Lift Off’ is a disco-stomper, slapping advancing and retreating loops of funk under an insistent kick drum that tears its way through the dance floor. ‘Comedown Cosmonaut’ oversees the album’s landing, briefly demonstrating a solid formula of squidgy synths and twinkling keys over a series of steady slaps, cracks and piercing chords that drift out of sight.
Though the album maintains a consistent sonic narrative, the music itself can lose its allure at times. Though Fettel’s mood-based compositions are successful, the musical palette lacks the diversity to produce a truly gripping LP.
‘Nothing Stays The Same’ LP was released on Greta College Workshop on the 3rd March on 12” vinyl.
By Louis Harnett O’Meara | Loose Lips
A2 A Morning Crystal Clear
B1 As He Fell Through the Sunrise
B2 Aurora (Siren Song Of A Counter Culture)
B3 Let Go
C1 Truffle Magic
C2 Rise & Funk
D1 Lift Off Pt. II
D2 Comedown Cosmonaut