Fond of Tigers: A Thing To Live With
Drip Audio

Sounding like the raucous spawn of King Crimson and Return To Forever, the Vancouver-based septet Fond of Tigers fearlessly fuses classic prog-rock with fusion on its debut A Thing To Live With. The musicians—violinist Jesse Zubot joined by Inhabitants members JP Carter on trumpet and Skye Brooks on drums, plus guitarist Stephen Lyons, pianist Morgan McDonald, bassist Shanto Bhattacharya, and drummer Dan Gaucher—bring a joyful noise to seven explorative improvs and intricate art-rock excursions on this live to disc collection. Thankfully, the group brings a level of punk-like ferocity to its playing that more than overrides any staleness implied by such genre associations. The intricate guitar-violin-bass patterning and slippery drum tempo that animates “North” seems to reference both the ‘70s and ‘80s Crimson models (at least until a screechy violin episode temporarily arrests the flow) while the heavier “Elkore” calls to mind Rush before the song implodes in a firestorm of guitar and violin caterwauling. The group's most explosive playing occurs in the volcanic “Here You Are, Hated” but it also wisely leavens that intensity with the placid overture “The Suburbs are for Love Birds” and peaceful “A Thing To Live With That Will Live With You” where Carter's softly buzzing horn floats alongside keening violin and delicate piano shadings. The album's quieter dimension is especially welcome, given that the large number of musicians could have generated an overwhelming barrage of sound. Uncharacteristic, too, is the fact that Brooks and Gaucher generally meld together and often sound more like a single musician (albeit an especially exuberant and rather multi-limbed one), a rare thing indeed in two-drummer outfits.

September 2006