David Fetcho’s musical career has spanned five decades and has swerved into many paths of oncoming traffic, including a 13-year stint composing for stage which led to a commission from the Australian Broadcasting Company to score a nine-part series on recovering heroin addicts. Most interestingly for readers of my usual beat, however, are the scant few years in the mid-to-late ’60s he spent in and out of deep-cut psych bands the P.D.U.S.M. and, later, the People. His work with those groups would give a foretaste of what was to come some fifty years later: his very first solo record, Watch It Sparkle.
Fetcho, operating under the name ds fečo, finishes what he started back in the Sixties Bay Area. Described as both a song cycle and mini-operetta, Sparkle defies the traditional “album” is. In fact, its content could defy music itself. Beginning with the percussion-laden funk jam “Not Again,” Fetcho incorporates what might be considered beat poetry if it weren’t for the surreal swirl of instrumentation behind his words. No, he saves that for “Civilization,” which begins with raw vocals and evolves into a digital drone (quite a statement about civilization indeed). That evolution (or devolution, as it were) continues through the titular track and into “Conspiracy,” with its oddly mechanical Beach Boys-esque vocal harmony chorales. Wrapping up with the chaotically magnetic “I’ll Be On Your Side,” the EP appropriately ends with “Just Another Good Day,” which somewhat resolves the ennui of “Not Again.” A song cycle, yes.
Sparkle is a treat for the ears and a stimulation for your senses. It’s easy to see where Fetcho’s psych background served as the breeding ground, and how his journey through theatre and composing over the years has landed him here at a fitting jumping off point for, hopefully, much more music to come. “I think I’m going for some sort of poetic encounter within the hidden parts of our culture’s soul,” he speculates, “but that could be pure presumption.”[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/175663350″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]