"Remarkable poignant, melancholy, minimalist symphonic pop!" - Melody Maker
The Autumn:Winter Collection is the second long player by Fonda 500, the lo-fi, silly gods from Hull, England. After the instant success, and critical acclaim, of 8 Track Sound System the band took no time to lay around, as Autumn:Winter Collection came out less than a year after 8 Tracks release.
But the close proximity of the recording sessions doesn’t mean the Autumn:Winter Collection is 8 Track Sound System Part 2 by any means; in fact, the records sound completely different. As where 8 Track was full of drums, and fuzzed out pop songs, the Collection is completely void of any drums and fuzz all together. But one thing that these two albums do share, however, is their incredibly lo-fi feel: just like 8 Track Sound System the Autumn:Winter Collection was recorded primarily in the bedrooms of the band members, and on analog Tascam 8 tracks.
With the Autumn:Winter Collection Fonda 500 utilize their Beach-Boys-style harmony and incredible song writing abilities to paint a sad but beautiful landscape. The album definitely breaths fall and winter, you can feel it.
MUSIC FOR AUTUMN:WINTER COLLECTION
1. Introduction (1:30)
Description: After the sounds of shuffling paper a plucked acoustic guitar fills the ears of the listener. A high pitched beep strikes and a young, British girl begins to speak the lyrics. He voice is looped, and sometimes cut off in the mid sentence. Another picked guitar joins the mix, covering the high end of the musical spectrum. After the girl is finished with her welcome the song ends.
Lyrics: "Hello and welcome to the Fonda 500 album / The Autumn:Winter Collection / listen to the songs / in winter sleep well animals / in autumn not."
2. The Autumn Tree Song (1:46)
Description: The Autumn Tree Song opens up with a sung do-da melody thrown over a single chord strummed over and over on an acoustic guitar. After nearly a full minute of this the acoustic chord takes a back seat to a horribly dead sounding puff organ. After this part the vocals walk up the scale while saying "autumn" and the puff organ gives its response call. Air stops being pumped into the organ and things end.
Lyrics: "da da da da / do do do do / we sing the songs that the autumn tree sings / to keep us warm / warm and safe together / autumn tree song."
3. Snowball (1:38)
Desription: This instrumental song consists of three acoustic guitars plucking their way through an incredibly sad narrative. At time a 12-string guitar is added in to double certain notes, and it really gives everything a surreal effect. Also, throughout the whole song the sounds of children playing at a playground can be heard. In a silly act, which Fonda 500 are not strangers to, the band adds in a cheerleader counting down from three at the end of the song as things fade out.
4. Dans Le Caravanette Et Toi Aussi? (4:07)
Description: For the first minute of this song various street sounds can be heard, including an emergency vehicle, people walking about, and what sounds like music coming from a convenience store. When the acoustic guitars kick in they are accompanied by a sliding metal guitar, and everything is heavily reverberated. When the lyrics come in the slide guitar cuts its self of. The lyrics are in a call and response kind of thing with the response usually being a few notes higher than the call, give it a really cool effect. After the first verse the slide guitar comes back in for a middle eight but sticks around for the second verse, which consists of a three part harmony revolving around the line "always stay close". After a little more slide guitar the song is fin.
Lyrics: Half of these lyrics are sung in, what I believe is, French, and the other half I can hardly understand. But it sounds like the lyrics are about huddling together to stay warm.
5. ...zzzz (1:22)
Description: Things are kicked off with a click and then a buzz, and that buzz with people omnipresent for the rest of the song, always lingering on in the background. This is another song that relies heavily on the vocals of Fonda 500. The acoustic guitar goes up and down the neck with a very simple melody. Towards the end of this song a tambourine is added, which will almost be the only percussion used on this album.
Lyrics: Can’t understand these lyrics either.
6. (Soon) The Snow (3:12)
Description: This is perhaps the most beautiful song on the album. Whenever I hear it I almost cry every time. It opens up with a Japanese sounding stringed instrument, but it’s probably just a guitar. A strummed guitar joins in but it’s soon killed by another acoustic guitar freaking out on one string; this one string suicide guitarer hops around at random all over the place. Soon that guitar is killed too by the song coming back in to itself, accompanied by a flute. Slowly background vocals fade in that sound so insane it’s hard to describe. If animals could sing like humans I’d assume that this is the kind of sound they’d make. After a while these animal singers over power the acoustic guitar, which gives up and fades out on its own. So now it’s just the main vocal man and the animal voices and they finish off this song with grace.
Lyrics: "Soon the snow / soon the snow / where are you in this snow / that falls as white white snow / and a fifth of the snow / will fall and be cold / so cover up / help a friend / please to climb inside my / silvery mountain / help us if you will / turn out the lights / we are the animals / let us sleep tight / help us twinkling stars / to fall asleep / we’ll hibernate / it’s not too late / and dream our dreams / our blankets and our quilts / are beautiful / we will see you again / in early spring."
7. The Stars That You Can See During Autumn And Winter (3:11)
Description: For this song the acoustic guitars have given away to casiotone keyboards, at least for a little bit. The first verse is completely keyboard driven, with the vocals hovering over them. After the first verse an old sounding man comes in with a speech about the stars, which is mostly about the stars you can see during autumn and winter. I’m so clever. When he’s done the second verse starts up and here come the acoustic guitars. But the old man returns after the second verse and gives us some more information about the stars. Fuzzed bass comes in and things get chaotic. This track ends with the professors getting his voice getting looped, while saying Pegasus.
Lyrics: "Hey Junior / did I hear you say / that your telescope / will take us away? / hey Professor / do you profess to know / about the snow / filling the solar system? / Well all together / with our junior star kit / tonight the child will spy / into the night sky / anticipation / we wait silently / and dream of becoming astronomy."
8. Furball (1:48)
Description: This song is another simple acoustic guitar song with vocals. In the middle of the song, however, a chorus of oo’s comes in that is particularly lovely. Not too much to say about this track.
Lyrics: "Snowball / in your face / snowball / the love you gave / went away / with a snowball/ ooo / snowball / in your face / I miss you."
9. Blanket-sharing Is Both Good And Important (1:32)
Description: The introduction of the xylophone comes in this song, and it works out very well, even though the notes it hits seem sort of random. The acoustic guitar strums along. When the vocals come in, which are completely isolated to the left channel, a buzzing casiotone is pitch-shifted along with the melody. Everything goes on together perfectly until the end.
Lyrics: "I thought the snow would end / our love and laughter / but it brought us together / one was colder than the other / the other was prepared to share / shared a blanket with the other / so the other would feel real warmth / together we’ve become much closer / thanks to the winter."
10. Woolen Birds (2:18)
Description: This song is my second favorite song on this album, my first being (Soon) The Snow. It’s the return of the pitch-shifting casiotone. A walking bass line, with the plucked acoustic, gives the impression of walking through the forest. You can see all of your animal friends walking by and it’s real fun. Every one and awhile a new casiotone is added into the mix and by the end of the song everything feels like and full.
Lyrics: "woolen birds in duffle coats / soaring through the sky / through the champions of temperatures / good night summer / autumn comes / for the first time this year / they’ll sleep like animals / knit warm outfits for cold autumn / make hot drinks available / to the shivering bees / who wave goodbye to the summer / for the first time this year / they dress sensibly / the hot otters and warm bees / make like the trees and leave / the cupboard is stocked with food / good night otters / night night geese."
11. Flight Into The Sound Of Autumn And Winter (2:31)
Description: A beeping goes from the right channel to the left giving us the rhythm. For the first time an electric guitar is heard on the album, and that electric guitar is playing a 50’s swing melody. That guitar busts into some random solo and a swelling, pulsating bass sound comes in. Half way through the song everything cuts out and the hilarity begins. It’s hard to explain but the after the vocal part telling you what you’re about to hear you hear it, in a very funny way.
Lyrics: "This is the sound of birds eating busicts / [ chomp chomp chomp ] / this is the sound of animals sleep walking / [ snoring ] / this is the sound of the stars twinkling / [ groo groo groo ] / this is the sound of robots dancing / [ robots dancing uuh uuh yeeh what ] / this is the sound / of autumn winter."
12. Snowy Times Are Coming (4:11)
Description: Yee-ha! This is the celebratory song on the album; hand claps and people in the background hooting and hollering. All of this is cut short when the vocals come in with a casiotone xylophone sounds. But soon the party atmosphere takes over and kicks out all signs of casiotones. This is also the song that refuses to die as it cuts out randomly only to fade back in and then cut out later. It’s a pretty fun and an appropriate end to the album.
Lyrics: "Snowy times are coming / ooo / snowest times / have come to town / everyone come gather round / the children / the scarves and hats / the cats and dogs warm on the mats / a beautiful town / from top to bottom / snug under a blanket of snow / the whitest white / the coldest cold / the snowest times have taken hold / of our home town."
13. Hibernate (1:43)
Description: The final song is just a simple piano song. This piano is accompanied by a vibraphone and everything ends.
LINER NOTES FOR AUTUMN:WINTER COLLECTION
Sadly the liner notes for the Autumn:Winter Collection aren’t half as extravagant as the liner notes for the 8 Track Sound System. The coloring is, appropriately, white and black outlined flowers cover all of the paper. Only two pages have writing on them, and that writing isn’t even very substantial: one gives the names of the Fonda 500 members and the other says something in, what I think is, Japanese. Enjoy.
YA. FUYÚ NÌ WA
SUIMIN YOKU, DOBUTSU.
AKI NI, REN-AI.
This album is hard to find, especially if you live in the United States. The only reason why I’ve heard it is because my brother lived in London for two years and he gave me the 8 Track Sound System, which started my love for Fonda 500. If you want to purchase this disc you can get it at http://www.opalmusic.com or you could E-mail Fonda 500 themselves. Visit http://www.fonda500.com.
If you really want to hear this album but don’t want to pay for it /msg me and I’ll burn it for you. (I E-mailed the band and they said it was fine for me to burn the album for everyone I know)