Review: A.J. Kaufmann ‘Fairyport Convent’

There are some artists in the world who are so prolific that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of their output, Buckethead for instance, how on earth would anyone know where to start with that guy’s catalogue? This could equally apply to the prodigious Mike Patton who is seemingly always in the process of starting some new project, likewise the legendary Melvins, who despite having followed them for decades, I still have to admit defeat on occasion when it comes to investigating new material. Now joining this esteemed rank is A.J. Kaufmann.

A.J. Kaufmann 'Fairyport Convent'

Originating from Darlowo in Poland, it should be pointed out in advance that Kaufmann also releases music under the Fairyport Convent moniker, and coincidentally that is what this, his first LP for The Swamp Records is titled. Confused? I don’t blame you.

The album starts with the pleasant folk-rock throwback of Flowers In Asphalt that recalls the spirit of Fairport Convention (hence the playful album title), Steeleye Span and Pentangle, this number would go down rather well at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention I reckon. Forever Searching is all-out post-punk straight out of ’77-’83 along the lines of San Francisco industrial pioneers Chrome, what with some of the otherworldly twisted space-rock psych sounds, a fantastic number.

Morning Sunrise starts with the peaceful sound of waves before leading to a rather sombre piano led ballad that is beautifully haunting and reflective. Green Deeps Of The Outer Bay will please fans of Krautrockers Amon Düül and their brand of tribal rock, meanwhile, Like A Child contains some Wesley Willis/Daniel Johnson levels of savant genius that help to lend the track a certain childish charm. Acid Queen reminds one of the late, great Grant Hart’s (Husker Du/Nova Mob) solo output, especially his latter-day collaboration with Godspeed You! Black Emperor while Pour The Money Down The Drain betrays a Syd Barrett and Robyn Hitchcock eccentric English psych influence.

akin to sitting in on a 60s hippy love fest…

Cid is a goofy sing-along in the style of the aforementioned Syd Barrett and Cloudy Lack is The Beatles if they were a bit braver and really went all out weird with the experimentation on later albums, progressive pop is one way to describe the sound here. Skip Spence’s (Jefferson Airplane/Moby Grape) Oar LP was mentioned in the album’s Bandcamp notes and that is certainly the feeling one gets from hearing Too Much Sunshine, a glorious track with its sunburned, acid casualty vibes.

The Sea Song reminds me of Australian band The Church’s dream pop neo-psychedelia but with a little more blues guitar virtuosity injected in, ala the late Gary Moore, making for an atmospheric beaut. God Is The Dog with its beast of a main riff reminds me of After Forever by Black Sabbath, which is of course no bad thing and gives the album a bit more of a punch on what has otherwise been a mostly relatively mellow affair.

Summer Dreams seems to take its cues from any number of surf influenced garage rock bands ala The Last, The Barracudas, etc and consequently makes for some fun new wave style nostalgia. Deep In Sun is another folk driven number which is serviceable but nothing particularly overtly special; finally, the album concludes with Universal Love which, as its title implies, is akin to sitting in on a 60s hippy love fest, all that is missing is Ravi Shankar and a shedload of pot.

Fairyport Convent is the kind of album that will definitely require multiple listens to fully appreciate and with which to fully immerse yourself into A.J. Kaufmann‘s strange, yet captivating, world, but you won’t regret it.

Label: The Swamp Records
Band Links: Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills