If one was to describe the predominant feeling that Los Angeles-based circus-pop group Fellow Fellow evokes with their music, it would be best put as a feeling of spiritual stagnation. Their debut album, adequately titled The Traveler, represents this sentiment with broad brushstrokes, opting for universals rather than a conventional storytelling approach to convey their message.
A tension between staying or going and the paralysis such choices can inflict is apparent on this record, which makes even more sense when learned the album was made in response to frontman Cooper Wolken’s move from a small East Coast town to the big city. The seven band members communicate this state of confusion with an ornate and baroque-inspired sound, taking us on a rollercoaster through the philosopher’s mind.
‘North‘, arguably the most inventive track of the album, now has a video, shot and directed by Sarah Prinz and Daniel J. Rosenberg of Flexsus Studios. A chamber-pop ballad that thrives on dynamics, ‘North’ begins softly, every note played just loud enough to be heard over Wolken’s fragile, wavering voice. “If we didn’t need to stay here / tomorrow we’d be on our way north,” he sings.
The first time I heard this song I sat there in suspense, knowing something unexpected was going to happen, just not knowing when. By the halfway mark, the quiet restraint gives way to a euphoric eruption of trumpets, tubas and drums that sound like the orchestral equivalent to a man in crisis. Wolken triumphantly sings, even if it may be at his own expense, alongside an elaborate arrangement that feels on the verge of unhinging itself at any given moment. An array of colorfully dressed dancers choreographed by Jordan Saenz scamper through the forest as the band plays, surrounding the frontman and his humorously out of place Wurlitzer.
Fittingly enough, Fellow Fellow was originally an interactive dance/theatre production that premiered at Art Share L.A. The show resonated with enough people that they decided to record the songs and make it into an album. It’s the band’s unique origins that lead me to believe they are carving an interesting path for themselves and there’s no telling where they’ll go from here. I just hope they continue making music. If any of this intrigues you, don’t forget to see Fellow Fellow perform at The Lost Room in Echo Park, on January 21st alongside Bubbeleh and California’s Bellow (Facebook Event).
Watch Fellow Fellow’s video for their fantastic single ‘North’.