Feeling of Far
FRITZ DODDY The Feeling of Far Summing up his trippy, green tinted 60's mind approach to indie musicmaking on his joyfully schizophrenic, long awaited debut The Feeling of Far, Fritz Doddy exclaims, 'Ready! Fire! Aim!' One friend compared the ten track collection to 'Pink Floyd written by an eight year old. It has such a child-like exuberance to it.' Others hear the psychedelic edges of Hendrix, the vocal soul of Frankie Valli, and oh yeah, the post Sgt. Pepper, Lucy in the Sky'd out Beatles. True to the impressionistic Drew Roth cover painting of a disjointed marionette finally cutting the strings, Doddy has broken free of the restraints of his musical corporate life and is ready to rebel. Fortunately for us innocent civilians in his path, he's directing his insanity towards the one thing he loves - making music that touches the heart and, more often than not, the funny bone. If you're not surprised and delighted, trying to wrap your brain around the wacky, stream of consciousness lyrics and rich sonic texturing (kid's voices, faux British accents, classical strings, sitar, Chinese flutes and chants, mellotron and MiniMoog, just for starters), Doddy will be disappointed. From first spark to completion, the album took seven years to conceive and complete. Doddy likens the spurts of inspiration that fueled the journey to the metaphoric image of the title track. His next door neighbor in Clinton, New Jersey gave him a decades old book by golf guru Harvey Pennick called The Little Red Book of Golf. 'The book was about the parallels of life and golf, improving your life by working on your game,' says Doddy. 'One of the chapters, called 'The Feeling of Far,' talked about looking beyond what's directly before you, pulling the blinders off and focusing instead on the end goal.' That's a nice, majestic and flowery way for this jack-of-all-musical-instruments to get to the real point: 'The album was therapy for me, very much a return to my roots as a musician. It's the ultimate response to being in a thousand rock, jazz and R&B bands that almost made it and working for the past 13 years at Elias Arts. The process started a while back when I was strumming a guitar on my front porch, and it evolved into a unique series of songs I really cared about. My goal became just to make a record that I might like to listen to myself, going out on a limb just enough so that I might be nervous about playing it for people. It's a high calorie album with a real trippy density to it. I created the big, weird production and less than linear lyrics purposely to keep listeners curious. I decided not to make any promotional videos because I want people to come up with their own interpretations. It's more fun and naughty this way. You tell me what it means.' While Doddy would rather we focus on the lyrics of the opening track 'Cynical Eye,' a tune which 'rebels against the TV culture which provides my livelihood,' the musician is in all his multi-instrumental glory on the effects laden, Beatlesque tune - playing bass, Mellotron, music box, Minimoog, guitars, mandolin, melodica and synthesizers. 'Amievellano,' a thoughtful folk-pop gem blending electronic percussion with sitar and a simple harmonic guitar line, features lyrics and vocals by Susan McKeown. 'The title is the name my grandmother used to call my sister,' Doddy says. 'It's a hopeful tune, something of a pep talk for my sister, who has had a hard life.' The world beat oriented title track 'The Feeling of Far' features a 'munchkin choir' singing partly in Gaelic. 'It's Only A Dream' is another 'Fritz Man Band' tune, this one a dreamscape ballad and thought provoking trip down memory lane, to childhood memories involving family camping trips. Then Doddy's daughter Adrienne (17) and his father Frank get in the act, adding vocal textures to the acoustic rock flavored 'All The Best,' which plays like the diary of a working musician. Son Jake (12) joins his sister on the tripped out, psychedelic ambient gem 'In The Tree,' a coming of age, boy becomes a man tune featuring really cool thunder and lightning effects. Doddy puts on his best pretentious fake Brit accent on 'Over You,' a piece he calls 'a carriage ride through the English countryside' that mixes quirky 60's British pop with big band horn flavoring. The Almighty will surely appreciate the optimistic (read: grandiose) energy of 'God is Hiding,' which features Adrienne's lead vocals, violin, cellos and a wistful Beach Boys vocal approach. 'Nothing But Laughter' uses a symphonic, Indian music driven world folk vibe to simply say 'don't take life too seriously.' The Orient Express stops last in China, where flutes, recorders, erhus, violas and cellos combine with exotic Chinese vocals to put us in a final trance along 'The Lonely Path.' Doddy was inspired by the 'faces of the forlorn figures on the subway' in creating this richly emotional tune. On a free for all, go for broke vanity project like Fritz Doddy's The Feeling of Far, perhaps it's best not to know too much about the artist beforehand. If people knew that the New Jersey native won Clio awards for his musical underscoring on accounts like Audi and Got Milk?, would they still be inspired? Would Mastercard and Staples do the trick? Composing music for Elias Arts for ten years before he got his current hotshot gig as their Creative Director, he also created the signature themes for the SciFi channel and ESPN2. The first rock song he ever heard was Grand Funk's version of 'Heartbreaker,' and before entering the corporate musicmaking realm, he played in a lot of forgettable bands and a few he wants to remember. Chief among his favorites was the acoustic trio he had in the late 70s and early 80s with Fiona Flanagan and Harry Reilly, which was highly regarded for it's musicality, onstage antics and poignant political commentary. Reilly and Doddy later went on to play in No Excuse, a band which at one point featured Fiona as chick singer and made the dashing break over the border to play gigs in Pennsylvania. 'We acquired visas and a 'Jersey to Pennsylvania' language dictionary and traversed the mighty Delaware River into Pennsylvania to search for gigs,' he recalls. Later, Doddy joined up with Jeb and Jock Guthrie in NYC to start the band On The Edge. They recorded numerous tunes and also made a two minute video for Campbell's soup that aired on MTV in the mid-80s. 'That band was way ahead of it's time,' he recalls. 'We constantly showed up at least a day early for many of our gigs.' Which brings us back to the moment at hand, The Feeling of Far. 'The best part of doing this record was, well, just doing it!' Doddy says. 'I think the key to making it work was only writing and recording when I felt pumped up for it. There was no time pressure, no one on my back telling me what to do. Total freedom, in other words. It was great involving family and friends, and letting them join in on the process of discovering the full potential of these songs. How can you not have fun hanging out and making music with your friends?' Don't know, Fritz, you tell us. We're just sitting here, having fun listening.