Almost exactly one year ago, Denton duo Freak Establishment dropped a psychedelic splatter house of horror on us with Fata Morgana. The album’s quirky charm was cinematic enough, but the deranged adventures of Michael and Squiddy had just begun.
From elusive, faceless beings to dancing frogs and to plasmid pyrotechnics, the album-length video provides a dense array of trippy visuals and stimulating counterpoints. To get you up to speed, check out the blurb attached to the album on the Freak Establishment Bandcamp page.
“In April 3020 writing began for Freak Establishment’s second album Fata Morgana. With both members experiencing flashbacks to events neither was ever a part of–involving a faceless character neither had met–the tagline “Whose Memories are These?” was agreed on.
The widely reported on contentious relationship between Squiddy and Michael came to a head during the sessions, where it was rumored Squiddy quit the band after a heated argument over the techno influenced beat on “Windmills.”
Squiddy was eventually persuaded by Michael to rejoin the group, and the album took on a new visual direction in addition to first time use of FL Studio and samples drawn from films and YouTube videos– a direction the group had been developing on IGTV over the course of 3020. Both had a goal to blend these new influences with the farthest out guitar sounds either had ever conjured from their fingers or effects pedals. The end result is what you hear and see on this page.”
So there you have it. There is some truly uncanny found-footage to go through, and though it doesn’t warrant any kind of content warning, you may want to steel yourself for some pretty creepy scenes. Sonically, the band manages to carve out a mischievous place between Zach Hill‘s darker projects and loop-infused wanderings of bands like Plural and Boards of Canada… not that any of those projects sound the same, of course. Maybe it makes more sense to say that ultimately, it’s more Phillip Glass than Zombi, but will certainly appeal to fans of either artist.
Honestly, you’re just going to have to listen to it for yourself and come to your own conclusions when it comes to this Rorschach test of an album, but the visual component certainly helps. With Freak Establishment’s diverse palette of danceable noise, disturbing sample work, and odd times (one of these songs is in 25/8), the band fully lives up to its name. While Fata Morgana is easy on the ears, it’s far from easy listening, and the same goes for the video. That being said, if you’re in the mood for a disorienting, non-linear celebration of dystopia, you’re in for a great time.
And it’s just in time for the spookiest month of the year. If you’re looking for a projector backdrop this Halloween to round out your house of horrors, the trick or treaters are going to love this.
This was quite the trip. Just when you think 2022 couldn’t get any weirder, they had to drop this shit on us. We’re more than okay with that, though. If you want to check out the album without the interludes and visual components, head to their Bandcamp here, and if you want us to keep up the constant energy we’ve been putting into the blog lately, you can buy us a coffee here. Coming up we’ve got Dot Hacker, Dhärä, so much more we can’t even think about it. Thanks for reading!