- Few dance producers are as confounding as Maurice Fulton. The Baltimore native has been active since the late '80s, and in that time has collaborated with The Basement Boys, Jimi Tenor and, of course, his wife, the unhinged Mutsumi Kanamori. In one of his few interviews (with self-declared fanboy Gerd Janson) he makes a beat in front of an RBMA audience. The result—typically madcap funk—still fails to make any sense even after watching him create it. Fulton's been pursuing BOOF on and off over the past 15 years, and the flower-themed project houses some of his prettiest work. His instrumental and production prowess has never been in question, but The Hydrangeas Whisper ups the bar, marrying dubby synths and free-flowing guitar improvisation, dipping and diving in and out of various genres.
For an idea of how far Fulton has come, check out "The Soft Kiss," the first track of his 2006 album A Soft Kiss By A Rose, and compare it to The Hydrangeas Whisper's opening track, "Intro To It's Sunny Outside." The tunes are similar in construction, but by now the hesitant jazz comping you hear on the former has bloomed into elegant, Göttsching-esque passages. But the thing that really elevates these productions is Fulton's ability to graft human rhythms onto drum machine grids. On "Cat Soulcat Strut," rock fusion moves are lightened by a two-minute hand drum outro. The next track, "Backlash," heads into classic Robert Hood territory, but the techno drive is broken by loose, hyperactive bongo playing.
One of Fulton's most famous tracks, 2008's "Where's Jason's K" (under the name Syclops), had some fun with designer drug references. He's taken it one further here, inventing a number of single letter club substances and pairing them with real or imagined friends. On "Pete Found His Z," the powder in question must be some emboldening upper, spinning out with a teeth-baring organ solo. The "M" possessed by Emi is almost certainly psychedelic—the song sends up Dave Brubeck's "Take 5" groove, adding some jammy guitar and ending with a trippy sitar drone. "Tomoko's O" could be an opiate, with its dad-rock guitars gliding out into the sunset. If it's not clear, Fulton's trying his hand at a number of different styles here. Anchoring things are dance floor killers like "Birgit Boogie" and "Just On The Swings," an airy funk vamp that captures the childlike abandon its title suggests.
The Hydrangeas Whisper feels like a culmination of sorts, the best of a grip of albums Fulton's issued over the past decade. He's beat the house LP problem by making something that feels like a DJ set, with stylistic leaps and no breaks between tracks. In fact, his intricate sound seems natural for this format. In a climate where scores of anonymous producers are handing in equally indistinguishable tracks, Fulton's carving out his odd, incredibly personal path.
01. Intro To It's Sunny S Outside
02. Birgit Boogie
03. The Hydrangeas Whisper
04. Cat Soulcat Strut
06. Pete Found His Z
07. Emi's M
08. Just On The Swings
09. Tomoko's O
10. Solar Eclipse On A Friday Morning