Local Love: Phytosophie & The Invisible Man
There’s something happening in Houston right now where all of the elemental pieces of your mind can get fixated on what beautifully diverse musical offerings are coming out of this city. We have such eclectic offerings that it feels closer to Berlin, London, or dare I say..New York City. One of the most mind melting things I’ve heard in a good while just emerged in a collaborative project between an Amarillo born artist named Phytosophie and SugarHill’s Dan Workman. The project, Phytosophie & The Invisible Man is one of the most diverse and beautiful things you may have ever had the chance to put in your ears. Describing themselves as electronic poetry, the debut album “Otto” has soundscape heavy mixtures that emanate throughout each and every track like nothing else happening in music right now, yet they sound eerily familiar.
Things open up with the synth and guitar mix of “Effervescence,” where the French spoken word vocals of Phytosophie carefully appear atop the sounds beneath. It’s minimalism at its finest where these space induced synths and tremolo heavy guitar dance behind words that cut like a knife. Even the chopped and remixed words that hop on and off of the track between varying sounds cannot deplete the power of her voice. Things pick up on the second track with a dancier vibe on “Backstage.” The addition of drums and English vocals just make what’s happening more interesting, while French poetry flows like fine wine. Though it’s barely over two minutes long, the track gives you a clearer mindset into what will come afterwards. The third track, “Florida Beach” builds on that same idea of a dance based sound while this mixture of French and English gets placed within the synths and drums that craft their own world of darkness and despair. However the shortened length of the song makes it feel closer to an interlude than anything else while it takes your further down the wormhole. In the fourth track, you realise that the deeply emotive words that pierce the veiled nature of the synths that pepper the song, “Flower Men,” are just a part of the mystery that the group creates. Like when you hear a track from B L A C K I E and it ends before it begins, but the depth of what’s inside doesn’t need further explanation; the minimal nature of some of these tracks is poetry on a whole new level.
A additional horn is placed within the fifth song, “Big Foot,” giving a free form jazz feel to the song while a guitar finds its way on without depleting the freedom enclosed. There are moments when the French words could detract you if the song wasn’t so uptempo, however that doesn’t occur here at all. Two songs later, things heat up with the heavier and sheer force of “Scream into the Wind.” Again the vocals are a blend of French & English where the group adds a distorted guitar and live drums to plunky synths and an electronic piano that makes this artisan heavy vibe that sticks to your soul. The same could be said about the following song, “Baila” where dark electronica and light techno beats glide underneath multiple synths and a bluesy guitar that just increases the mystery of the world created all over the album. The song has a longer length than many found here, but it makes you feel like you’re witnessing vignettes of a person’s life more than just a mere album. When the ninth song, “Alentejo” comes in, you get these little bits and pieces of sounds that are stabbed by spoken word and a horn track, while a beat moves the song along. It’s a trip to hear how something that at first listen feels so simple, is actually something that’s flowing with multiple tracks that you notice more and more with each and every listen.
They keep things trippy on the following track, “St. Germain,” while mixing it up to a more techno sound on “Rilke,” that feels closer to what you’d want a modern Kraftwerk song to sound like. While there’s so much happening on the longest song of the twelve, “Beja,” it’s just a deeper glance into a world where you’re just a bystander. The beauty of this album is that it’s so foreign while sounding relevant that the French vocals make you feel like for the length of it, you’re just a mere mortal allowed to view the world in which Phytosophie exists. It might be one of the most inventive things I’ve ever heard, because I sincerely don’t remember feeling like I’m only getting a glimpse into something like this before. Not since I first heard David Bowie have I heard music that made me feel like I was just an observer to the world that the artist created, yet that’s what this album does to you. You can experience the visual and visceral art of Phytosophie & The Invisible Man, when they perform at Cardoza Fine Art this Saturday at 7:00. The all ages show runs from 7:00 to 10:00 and is 100% FREE.