Humans are pattern-seeking animals. We like to ascribe meaningful connections to unrelated things that may not actually have any connection whatsoever. The scientific term for this is ‘apophenia.’ For Philadelphia musician Emilio Rizzo, it’s also the name of his third album under the moniker Fuzznaut. The question is this: does Apophenia, as an album, embody or contradict its title?
The six songs on the album don’t appear to share any thematic link. There are no lyrics with which to back this up, but other than being written in what sounds like the same tuning, there isn’t much to link each song other than being included on the same album. Each song is unrelated to the other, linked only by circumstance. So far, so in keeping with the title.
But each song is not, in itself, a disparate collection of riffs and motifs. They each flow from beginning to end. The title track, also the album opener, is drenched in reverb, and comes off as a lighter version of something one might hear on a latter-day Earth album. It’s all very pensive, stretching over the listener in simple motifs that do feel as though they gel together. This is much the same across the album. ‘Parasitic Oscillation’ leans more heavily on the fuzz and distortion, sounding almost sludgy. ‘Seconds Between A Swing and a Hit’ does feel quite like the musical equivalent of the tension inherent in the time between swinging at something and hitting it, though it does lack a satisfyingly impactful climax.
So, is this all a meta-commentary? Is the use of apophenia as a title and the subsequent non-relation of the individual works a commentary on the very nature of music itself? Suffice it to say, I’m not sure, but it certainly feels that way. The album is soaked in reverb, giving it an ethereal quality not unlike thin clouds covering the constellations in the night sky (which are also patterns that don’t really exist). But to make music that is itself a collection of repeated patterns, and to label it as Apophenia, feels like a contradiction in terms.
Perhaps that was never the point, however. And I know I’m certainly at risk of getting too hung up on this idea. The main thing is the music itself, which is ultimately very enjoyable. It does sound a little thin and meandering at times, but it’s a solo record of one guy and his guitar, so that arguably comes with the territory. My only other real criticism is that at 29 minutes, it’s over a bit too quickly. But that’s just me. For new listeners, it’s a very accessible album – nothing is off-putting or jarring. For more established fans, the music on display here fits in neatly with the rest of Rizzo’s discography – it’s perhaps a bit brighter in tone than his earlier solo works, but is otherwise very much in keeping with how they sound.
Apophenia is out now, self-released, and available here.
Words: Nick Dunn