Further - (1995)
Thanks to its release on Drag City and an increasingly higher profile (and rabid fan base), Further turned out to be FSA's breakthrough, at least in cult terms. Even Rolling Stone reviewed the album (amusingly pairing it with a modern Pink Floyd live release), but Further was anything but a corporate sellout. Rather, the twosome achieved a new balance of delicacy and power, heightened in noticeable part by Pearce's increasingly assertive singing. His vocal approach of extended sigh as singing hadn't changed, but his words had a new clarity and crisper delivery, with fine results. Otherwise, FSA stayed the same general course musically, but again the arrangements provide the difference, with the unplugged folk side of Pearce's music now firmly taking the fore on songs like the extended, multipart "For Silence," often with gentle reverb or extra studio effects that make the songs all that much more intriguing. It's not quite Bert Jantsch or John Fahey redux, but there's a definite sonic connection there that's well worth the hearing. Other highlights are the clear acoustic notes cutting through the hum and drone of the majestic "In the Light of Time" or the buried waves of electric guitar in counterpoint to the gentle picking on "Come and Close My Eyes" — the latter accompanied at the end with what sounds like a typewriter, without sounding jarring or out of place. No compromises were aimed at radio-friendly unit shifters — opening track "Rainstorm Blues," a roaring feedback squall ascending and descending in volume, got further accompaniment from hard-to-place crumbles and squeals, Brook's growling bass work setting the mood even stranger. Brook herself gets a lovely moment of vocal glory on "Still Point," her voice even more soft and restrained than Pearce's, rising through a striking squall of sound and, once again, upfront acoustic guitar.