With a luscious discography that dates back to 2013, Fabels (yes, we’re spelling that right) could likely have started the return to shoegaze and experimental art rock trend the electronic world is seeing swell nowadays. With their first two albums, 2013’s Zimmer and 2016’s Hi dabbling in Bauhaus-cum-Sonic Youth-cum-Ride experimental krautrock vibes, by 2018 the duo had added electronic elements and more wall of sound guitars a’la Catherine Wheel or Th’Faith Healers. Now with their third album, Minds, which released late last year, Fabels are officially in dream pop (albeit creepy dream pop; is there such a thing as “nightmare pop”?) territory and officially on Your EDM’s radar.
By the way, did anyone else not know that music from sunny Australia could be so dark? Who expected experimental krautrock to reach as far as Sydney? It doesn’t help that a lot of the vocals seem to be Scandinavian or German, though the fact that Fabels worked closely with Icelandic music producer Geir Brillian Gunnarsson snaps at least that part of the puzzle into place. Rest assured, however, there was a lot of double-and-triple-checking the promo to make sure it didn’t actually say “Austria” instead of “Australia.”
With confusion and initial promo-checks completed, we can now say that Minds is a triumph of an album in many genres: shoegaze, krautrock, dream pop, experimental electronica, world music, dark wave, post punk and even a bit of goth. With all those styles involved, the album sounds incredibly cohesive; one definitely wouldn’t mistake Fabels for any other artist with this album. In earlier work, listeners may be able to pick out influences like the ones mentioned above, but Minds is all Fabels, and this Gunnarsson guy, apparently, who we’re also kicking ourselves about not knowing.
From the merely weird and interesting semi-Bjork-y tones of the title track to the definitely disturbing experimentalism of “ShereKhan” (released on its own in 2018), Minds sort of creates its own world of sound. It’s not even really fair to call it experimental (though we have it on good authority that a lot of sound science was deployed here) because the artistry and musicality of the album is so complete. While the Aussie duo worked occassionally with different producers, such as fellow Aussie Geir Brillian on “Piccolo,” the overall sound and theme of the album are perfectly pitched to together. Singles on their own make an impact, but the album as a whole is an actual reality shift.
Fabels also have a strong audio/visual component to their work, as is evidenced by all the videos that have come out of the album. They recorded a studio session performance for three tracks in advance of the album’s release in 2020 and 2021 (dir. Matthew Syres) and shot two music videos for the title track and “ShereKhan.” The studio sessions were dramatically lit and perfectly match the vibe of the album while the actual music videos, created by artists working with Fabels’ label Qusp are visual representations of the music. All this together creates an even more immersive experience into Fabels’ world.
There is so much to unpack with Fabels that one article can hardly do them justice; perhaps if we’d known about them from the start it would be easier to describe, but really the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we definitely recommend fans of all the genres we mentioned get stuck in with this innovative, dark and impeccably produced project that defies genre.