When I first reviewed Brian Fisher’s Eastern Souvenirs EP what I really loved was the organic digital trickery of the album, it had a charming plinky-plunky, clinky-clunky sound to it, aided by the band’s namesake, the souvenir instruments from various countries acquired by Brian Fisher. If that initial EP was missing anything it was the absence of a real heavy punch like other electronic based acts such as Erik Blood or Crater. For Green Valleys Fisher has released ten absolutely punchy songs that adhere to that dance of electronic sounds and organic instruments commingling and intertwining but these songs seem to rumble from just underneath each song’s crust and reverberates throughout.
I mentioned Erik Blood above, his 2016 album Lost In Slow Motion is a gem, delivering everything I though the genre should be, Green Valleys stacks up squarely with that album, in their tonal qualities, their punchy melodies, the focus on poetic lyricism, even at times in the cadence of the vocals. I hate to sit here and say that one thing is great simply because it’s so similar to this other great thing, often the inverse is true, I draw this comparison because Brian Fisher took Eastern Souvenirs in its own unique direction and in the end the result was reminiscent of an album that is truly spectacular and in the end Green Valleys shows itself to be spectacular as well.
There’s so much less of that plinky-clunky sound that I was initially concerned I would be less interested in this album, but the bass undertones, an uptempo that lends itself toward a more dancy feel, and these airy vocals made me realize what I had really wanted out of that initial EP. Hold On starts off with this acoustic guitar sound that reminds me of that EP but as the song builds that tempo really takes off. Even the album’s title track which is way down tempo manages to spark enough body movement to keep it from being atmospheric. Sky was the song that sealed the deal for me, this was the song that I could literally see the room, the people, the lights, and the performers, and I could feel my body moving in that space, I could smell that stale alcohol and too sweet sweat, which I think is really the ultimate goal of any album.
Green Valleys is perfect but not too perfect, every so often Fisher throws in an off note or warps a chord, something to add this feeling of life being bent out of shape, taking the song to its extremes. It’s this vintage note that juxtaposes the pristine perfection the highly produced and polished electronic songs in the mainstream. That’s the trick when writing music like this, nodding to the synthetic while acknowledging that it was not composed by a robot running a complex algorithm, but rather by flawed human hands.
Maybe this is just my perception but some electronic artists give off this vibe that says “hey I have some equipment and Garageband,” not too dissimilar to the thousands of people out there with an expensive DSLR and a photoshop subscription. It not that this is how I saw Brian Fisher’s initial song but more that I didn’t see anything to definitively disprove that. But with Green Valleys it is clear that Fisher has continued to grow artistically and take genuine risks in his music, no matter what equipment he has he’s doing something serious here.
While I started out a fan of Eastern Souvenirs, on that initial EP I ultimately felt like the aspects it was lacking kept me from going to the next level of interest. It was about a year and a half ago that I finally caught the band live at Lo-Fi in Seattle and this really started the process of the band transcending some really nice sounds into a developing artist I felt intrigued by and invested in. Green Valleys is cemented proof that Eastern Souvenirs belongs in the same conversation as the many other excellent electronic acts around the region.
I’d be neglecting one element of the album if I didn’t also mention the cover art. I don’t typically mention covers here but, and I can’t quite place my finger on it, I love this cover, much like the music it conveys a real sense of encompassing motion. You can and absolutely should pick this album up right now, you can find it at easternsouvenirs.bandcamp.com or you can find it at easternsouvenirsmusic.com.