Steelism’s Jeremy Fetzer Gets His Soundtrack Groove On

Jeremy Fetzer | Phases | (Fetzicon)
3 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

The non-pedal steel guitarist of Steelism goes it alone for this short but sweet four song EP.

Like the band he co-founded, these instrumentals don’t need lyrics to connect emotionally, although they seem constructed to enhance visuals which we don’t see. That won’t come as a surprise for anyone who reads the advance promotional material that notes “The EP was inspired by film scores of Jonny Greenwood, Brian Eno’s Apollo, and Brazilian composer Antônio Jobim.”

It’s a laid back, often atmospheric but never bland set represented by the cover of Fetzer lounging on an easy chair with his feet up. But the easy going approach of songs like the opening title track obscures the complexity around the layers of instruments and delicate arrangements that mold these sounds.

On “Tinker,” the bubbling, near Kraftwerk-styled beats mix prog and techno with an alternately dreamy and fuzzed out guitar solo that appears and disappears as the song bobs and weaves around classic 70s influenced synths and programmed percussion. The track “Fig” slows the tempo to feature more period synths that float and hover, creating a sort of sexed up soul that Isaac Hayes might have used for a love scene in his Shaft score. The lush, low key vibe is impossible to predict as it goes through tempo and instrumental changes where percussion comes into and out of focus.

The closing “Bermuda” with its modified bossa-nova beat is where the tropicalia influence of Antonio Carlos Jobim is most prominent. It seems made as the backdrop for a late night tiki party as it winds down.

Each of the four tunes is unique but tied together by Fetzer’s conceptual vision as he pushes the groove in various moods and directions without breaking a sweat. Perhaps a few more Steelism-type guitar solos would raise the temperature of this EP, which stays on low boil throughout. But repeated plays display the somewhat obscured complexity of an audio movie Fetzer directs. Now we just need the visuals, one of which Fetzer created (below). Or, better still, lay back, turn the lights down low, and create your own.

Credit: Alysse Gafkjen

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