Fonohead – The Captain Reik Diaries

A bit of a mystery man

Fonohead - The Captain Reik Diaries

Album facts

Release Date: March  10th, 2023
Label: Self released
Tags: , , ,
Discogs: Not yet available
Partially sounds like: Schiller, A Flock of Seagulls, Talk Talk, Camouflage
Final score: 3.5 stars
Matching album cliches: 1 / 7

Strangely enough there is hardly any inform­a­tion to be found about Fonohead when you look him up on the inter­net. He might cov­er all of his bases with a pres­ence on all the cool places to check out if you are a music fan: Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Instagram, Bandcamp and even a web­site of his own. But the only thing we learn is that Fonohead is an elec­tron­ic music artist and pro­du­cer. Well, I guess he likes his music to speak for him – which it does rather nicely.

'The Captain Reik Diaries' is Fonohead 's fourth album. It was released a little more than a year after his last out­put, the EP ‘Owner of Cosmos’, which came out in January 2022. The new album is one which takes a while to dis­cov­er. It reveals itself lay­er after lay­er. Each time I listen to it, I dis­cov­er some­thing new. If you’ll par­don the pun, you could say that each listen lets you dive deep­er beneath the sur­face of pleas­ant sound.

Ambient soundscapes for seafaring adventurers

When I first heard it, its ambi­ent sound­scapes con­jured up images of chilled out, lazy sum­mer nights spent in some rooftop bar with a nev­er quite dark city night sky above you and the neon lights, sirens and human noises of the met­ro­pol­is far beneath. Then I paid more atten­tion to the lyr­ics and the imagery in my mind changed to rolling waves, windswept beaches, vast oceans and the omin­ous dark­ness of the deep sea. Contrary to everything I said, a friend who walked in while I was listen­ing to the album on full blast, asked me, which dark, Depeche-Mode-inspired band this was. I hope, Fonohead takes this as a compliment.

Not quite Depeche Mode

The album starts with ocean sounds, fol­lowed by a piano melody designed to lift your spir­it. The lyr­ics are poet­ic without being com­plic­ated. 'Left in silence' is catchy and a great way to begin the jour­ney. Having men­tioned the boys from Basildon before, the title of the song reminds me of their ‘Leave in silence’, but this is really as far as the sim­il­ar­it­ies go.

'Run' has a slightly hyp­not­ic feel to it, that is emphas­ised by the repeated words of the chor­us. The pre­cise rhythm and pulsat­ing melody spurs you on, no mat­ter that you are run­ning late.

'Washed Upon Your Shore' starts slow and begins weav­ing a spher­ic tapestry of sound. We hear waves softly crash­ing as the dreamy melody draws us in. The vocals float above, warm and wel­com­ing and you in with the story about a ship­wrecked sail­or washed up on an unfa­mil­i­ar shore who is res­cued by a mys­ter­i­ous woman, He expresses his tanks in tender words full of won­der and emotion.

Fonohead (Portrait photo 2023)
Fonohead (Portrait photo 2023)

'Another Mile' is pos­sibly the track on this album which is most remin­is­cent of the 80s. Is it the drum sound, the struc­ture of the song, or the men­tion of fad­ing pho­to­graphs? Whatever it is, there is a hint of bands like 'A Flock of Seagulls' or 'Talk Talk' in the sound somewhere.

'Mermaid' cre­ates a dreamy vis­ion of a mys­tic­al under­wa­ter world with more excel­lent, warm, laid back vocals, oscil­lat­ing sounds, echo effects and some syn­thet­ic strings. The only thing that I find dis­tract­ing is the mono­tone drum sound, that in my opin­ion would have been more at home in a soft rock song.

I am wrapped in the velvet
of your whisper.
Lyrics of 'Mermaid' by 'Fonohead'

'Feeding the Abyss' wakes us from our rev­er­ie, our jour­ney picks up speed with an insist­ent rhythm track and urgent vocals. Here, Fonohead sounds a bit like Marcus Meyn at times, whom we know as sing­er of 'Camouflage' and 'M. I. N. E'. The dance floor is def­in­itely calling!

Smashing win­dows, crack­ing doors
venom claws are scratch­ing floors
Lyrics from 'Feeding the Abyss' by 'Fonohead'

'Kaleidoscoped' keeps you on your feet with a driv­ing beat, throb­bing synth and strong melod­ies. It might be my favour­ite song on the album. I like the imagery of the lyr­ics, espe­cially the kal­eido­scop­ic eyes. It makes me think of Alice in Wonderland some­how. Can someone please draw a com­ic to those lyrics?

'Remember' lets you chill again, with soft sounds, gentle rhythms and match­ing vocals. Guitars soar, adding drama and scope. Lyrically, it could be a med­it­a­tion on grow­ing up.

We are back in pop­pi­er realms with 'Heading the Sun', which is uplift­ing and excit­ing and invokes the feel­ing of wit­ness­ing a beau­ti­ful sun­rise after a long, dark night.

Reverberating notes and Sci Fi sounds start the mel­low­er 'They Say'. Again the vocals float above everything but here they are some­times double-tracked and slightly dis­tor­ted. The sound­scapes in the instru­ment­al parts are epic and once more con­jure up images from 20.000 Leagues Below the Sea.

Last, but by no means least is 'Sailing Home'. I like the con­trast between the rhythm and the piano melody. It's a strong song, one which will stick in your head for a while.

Atmosphere, melody and a touch of melancholy

Melodic, laid-back, atmo­spher­ic and slightly futur­ist­ic are words I would use to describe the latest offer­ing of 'Fonohead'. Warm sound­scapes that allow you to free your mind to dream, without being kitsch or overly sen­ti­ment­al. Interesting, enga­ging, thought­ful and some­times poet­ic lyr­ics make for more than just back­ground sound and Fonohead's style of singing will be liked by those who don't fancy aggress­ive shout­ing or heav­ily dis­tor­ted voices with their synth pop.

The cov­er art is simple but effect­ive, fus­ing a por­trait shot with one of open water. It sums up the album quite well. The elec­tro pop musi­cian and the sea – to very badly para­phrase Ernest Hemingway.

Track by track rating for: Fonohead – The Captain Reik Diaries

Fonohead - The Captain Reik Diaries
Fonohead – The Captain Reik Diaries
Left In Silence
Run
Washed Up On Your Shore
Another Mile
Mermaid
Feeding the Abyss
Kaleidoscobed
Remember
Heading The Sun
They Say
Sailing Home
Recommend
Left In Silence
Feeding The Abyss
Kaleidoscobed
Sailing Home
Weak
(Nothing to report)
3.5

Typical album cliché list for: Fonohead – The Captain Reik Diaries

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  1. 3.2
    A sol­id synth pop album

    The album con­tains a few high­lights, like 'Feeding the Abyss' and 'Kaleidoscobed'. The major­ity of the songs stretch a bit like chew­ing gum. Either too little hap­pens or there is a lack of dynam­ics. Besides, a few songs could have been short­er. Personally, I find songs in the 6–8 minute range rather exhaust­ing (espe­cially when not much happens). 

    Breakdown
    Leave A Review
    Left In Silence
    Run
    Washed Up On Your Shore
    Another Mile
    Mermaid
    Feeding the Abyss
    Kaleidoscobed
    Remember
    Heading The Sun
    They Say
    Sailing Home
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Left In Silence
Run
Washed Up On Your Shore
Another Mile
Mermaid
Feeding the Abyss
Kaleidoscobed
Remember
Heading The Sun
They Say
Sailing Home
Final Score