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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fable and the World Flat’s Second Phase

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With age and experience, bands learn all sorts of hard lessons, but one of the hardest to grasp is also seemingly one of the most basic: Don’t take yourselves too seriously. It’s understandable why bands resist this one. When musicians spend countless hours writing and recording an album, it’s only natural that they’d want their work to be taken seriously and hope the public will receive it with the same consideration that went into making it. The public doesn’t always work like that, though. Sometimes the public just wants to kick back with music that’s fun to listen to and that goes down easy. It was with that understanding that Milwaukee’s Fable and the World Flat recorded their second album, The Great Attractor, their slow-coming follow-up to 2009’s Ladies and Gentleman

“With the last album we did, we were trying to be intensely focused and to nail everything,” explains Fable’s Steven Look. “We wanted everything to be perfect; we were going for the masterpiece. But with our new material, it was all about just having a ton of fun.”

Accordingly, then, The Great Attractor is a looser, funkier, weirder album than Ladies and Gentleman, free and impulsive where its predecessor’s beat-heavy pop was deliberate and meticulous. It’s a party record and at times a deeply goofy one, with the loopy sensibilities of the odder corners of Parliament and Funkadelic’s discography; it even throws in a couple of musical skits.

That scrappy makeover was possible, in part, because Fable and the World Flat is no longer a band, at least not in the pack-them-in-a-van, drop-them-on-a-stage sense. They’ve shed a couple of members since the last album, leaving intact the core duo of Look and longtime friend and collaborator Matthew Gorski. “I think it took us a while to realize that we weren’t necessarily going to be a rock band anymore,” Look says. “That’s where we came from. We’d always been a rock band. We always had a full crew. But this time we were free to come at recording from just a production angle.”

They found that trimming their roster made recording easier in many ways. The two were able to flesh out songs at their own pace, trading demos back and forth between their other projects. “It made for a much cleaner work flow, having just the two of us instead of four chefs in the kitchen,” Gorski says. “It also opened us up to electronics. There’s a whole lot of electronic stuff on the album we couldn’t have done if we were working with a full band.”

And, in a roundabout way, it made the album more of a collaborative effort, since the duo brought in outside players to flesh out many of their tracks. The album features present and former members of The Fatty Acids, Felix Culpa, Meteah Strike, John the Savage and the hip-hop group Fresh Cut Collective, to which the duo has especially deep ties. Gorski drums for the group and co-produced their last album with Look, and when Fable and the World Flat begins playing live shows later this summer—when they plan to release their second album of 2013, Dark Flow—Fresh Cut Collective will serve as their backing band.

“We’ve been itching to perform some of the Fable stuff live,” Look says. “We’re hoping to play out aggressively. I’m not sure if we’ll be touring, but we’re definitely going to spend a concentrated amount of time playing heavily around town.”

Stream or download The Great Attractor at fableandtheworldflat.bandcamp.com.