dsfečo’s Masterful Take on the Avant-Garde a Long Time Coming [Review]


dsfečo is the performing name David Fetcho, adopted when he decided to release his first-ever solo work after over 50 years in music. Fečo is the original Slovak spelling of his surname, but when his grandparents arrived at Ellis Island, they were given a phonetically English version. This composer-cum-solo artist may have chosen this name as a mirror to his career. Though David Fetcho has made his living as a successful composer and producer, his original love is avant-garde songwriting, just like his original name is Fečo.

Fetcho started his music career playing in a number of bands in high school and college, with varying degrees of success. He began composing for various radio broadcasts and theater and dance productions while still in college, and made this largely his career. Fetcho’s wife is famed choreographer Susan English Fetcho and together they created, directed and scored 14 original dance theater productions over 13 years. While Fetcho has an impressive career, all of his work has been with others; collaborations, group/band work and compositions for other artists to perform.

After five decades dsfečo took the daunting step to create his first solo EP, Watch It Sparkle. An epic of avant-garde composition, this album’s equal has not been seen in experimental music since the likes of Philip Glass or David Byrne. dsfečo says he draws inspiration from Radiohead as well, but the skill of composition and production on Watch It Sparkle is unparalleled.

dsfečoThe album opens with Not Again, which may even take some direct influence from Byrne’s Rei Mono, with its Latin/tribal beat structure. Stylistically this track is characteristic of Fetcho’s technique; layering of many different styles and sound samples creates an almost dissonant and chaotic feeling on this and most other tracks on the album. This technique creates the experimental pull for fans of such music, but the level of quality and skill used in the composition and production is what makes each song a cohesive work rather than just noise.

The rest of the songs on Watch It Sparkle are meant to follow a pattern like an operatic libretto, and to create the story of the ups and downs one experiences in life. Civilization is the most basic and restrained-sounding song on the album, with a surprise symphonic burst at the end. The title track, the album’s apotheosis, is meant to be a microcosm to the album’s macrocosm. With a masterful layering of styles and samples, this song cycles through the thoughts, feelings and emotions of being truly present in life while the album cycles through the different phases in life on a larger scale.

Conspiracy, I’ll Be By Your Side and Just Another Good Day have a different tone to them than the three first songs on dsfečo’s new EP. There seems to be a slightly lighter and more positive feeling to these songs, perhaps representing the happier times in life. Just Another Good Day ends the album on a seemingly positive note, with quiet, high-pitched vocals and a pretty harp and synth harmony. The all-instrumental track on the end of the song, however, becomes dark and foreboding once again. Could this be the beginning of another difficult time? Are these dark and stormy tones connoting a fear of the unknown? Fetcho leaves it up to the listener to interpret, and there are many possible interpretations, just as there are many ways to interpret life.

Music is always open to interpretation, especially when it is experimental in nature. With his very first solo EP, dsfečo masterfully creates a framework, reflective of life, in which that interpretation can happen. Whether simply on a musical level or as a whole concept mimicking life, Watch It Sparkle has many angles and facets to be explored by listeners. Based on this, David Fetcho’s debut solo EP as dsfečo, it appears as though it is a very good thing that the music veteran decided to step out on his own and create this powerful avant-garde work. Watch It Sparkle can be streamed on dsfečo’s Soundcloud page or on Spotify, both listed below in “Sources.”

Review by Layla Klamt

Soundcloud: dsfečo: “Let It Sparkle”
Spotify: dsfečo

Images courtesy of artist’s press package

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