Syclops - I've Got My Eye On You

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  • One way or another, Syclops is Maurice Fulton. Whether he's actually behind the arrangements of this debut album, I've Got My Eye On You, or he's merely the producer for the Finnish jazz-funk trio of Hanna Sarkari, Jukka Kantonen, and Sven Kortehisto—the group isn't available for interviews and doesn't perform live—Syclops offers us another welcome Fulton-led album away from Mu, the leftfield schizo-funk project he formed with his wife. Like Mu's albums, I've Got My Eye On You bridges the synthetic and the live-drum jams associated with Fulton, but stretches that aesthetic toward the jazz fusion of the mid-'70s and more ambient, Saturday morning soothings. Now, break out the word "ambient" and it sounds like Fulton's gone a little soft with his patented rhythm racket. But for the velvet vibes of the title track or "A Lovely Sunday," Eye is at its most dynamic when tightest. 2005's "The Fly"—with its screeching acidic sounds and manic drums—highlights his knack for entwining simple jazz beats with almost caustic effects that somehow wind up more mesmerizing than alienating. "Mom, the Video Broke" takes the model and gives it handclaps, fusing mid-track into a toxic groove reminiscent of his material with Mu. The masterful "Where's Jason's K" threads an old warbled bassline that could have been on Herbie Hancock's Thrust into dense synths and one of the album's simplest beats. "Nelson's Back" cushions the edges more, a vibrant synth pattern and house-y piano keeping the arrangement limber despite its insistent beat. Like "Jason K," it's loosely compacted. Each element is granted just enough room to wander, without straying into the exhausts of self-indulgence. Unfortunately, some of Eye feels like the result of an excess of creativity. Where Fulton's work with Mu was always loaded with ideas—hyperkinetic in fact, with breakneck cuts into spastic, full-burst passages that changed their structure completely in moments—here this creativity sometimes feels more like a lack of restraint: an exciting, often brilliant producer putting too much on display. Though it opens simply enough—a gently expanding beat, fretless bass and arpeggiated synths—"Naoka's F" soon comes untied; its play with tone and dusky calm loses focus, winding up more aimless than unoccupied. Likewise, "5 Out" spoils its gauzy synths with choppy beats and cuts that undermine its delicate tone, and "The E Ticket" seems uncertain whether to accelerate or maintain speed for most of its length, not so much an exercise in counter-tension as in mismatched counter-textures. Ultimately, though, these critiques may seem like quibbles on the strength of much of I've Got My Eye On You, they're enough to make Syclops' debut somewhat frustrating. Perhaps that's the most telling statement: it shows how much we've come to expect from anything Fulton's involved with now, three fake Finnish jazz dudes or not.
  • Tracklist
      01. NR17 02. The Fly 03. Naoka’s F 04. 5 Out 05. Nelson’s Back 06. Where’s Jason’s K? 07. The E Ticket 08. Mom, The Video Broke 09. I’ve Got My Eye On You 10. A Lovely Sunday