Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
All of those people who use the start of a new year to shed clothes down to their skivvies to take a brief run into an ice cold lake are wired as Stars Like Fleas musical arrangements are, the way that they enter the bloodstream like plunges into beverages that are supposed to be kept cold at all costs, which only makes them fight and struggle twice as hard to get back to room temperatures. Those polar bears strip down to trunks and nothing else and feel that immediate surge of endorphins rage through their skin and bones when they touch the frigid waters for the first time, making the air temperature the equivalent to an oven's flame.
And that's half the entertainment, those dueling sensations at work - the recoil and the exhilaration, the desire for more, more, more or the need to free oneself from those uncomfortable elements and cover up with some wool blankets or whatever's available. These dueling sensations are the grounds for how Shannon Fields and Montgomery Knott, along with the multiple hoards of eclectic musicians that they surround themselves with on recordings and in live ensembles, bring their various visions into life. There's the extra indie value of highly technical experiments gone well to much of what this project - an infrequently touring outfit - is with most of its steps, extensively exploring what it means to move across many textures and buds. It's very much like that sizzling and freezing dynamic of those polar bear dippers in all of the band's pretty and fissured undertakings, the kicking and the bounding and the shocked moments of falling into something just as wild and unseen. It sometimes feels like how it must be out in that wide and frostily frozen lake on the other side of the bay windows here this afternoon. There are varying degrees of frozenness for that water and they're waters that, during the busy spring and summer months in this particular retreat town, are teeming with a multitude of fish. They're still out there and those fish at the bottom of this lake are busy getting cabin fever, making the kinds of commotion that the Stars Like Fleas music is based on.
It's all about contrasts and interestingly diverse avant garde riddlings that carry the hints of tiger skin rugs, lemon juice and skylights. These fish at the bottom of the lake are locked in there, just churning up the waters, waiting for the ceiling to back on up, to give them more sky, more stretching room, more maneuverability. As it is, they're crunched in, forced to get to know their lake-land neighbors better. They share their decreased heart rates together. They can't get away from their own stenches and it drives them slowly into madness. They develop nervous tics like fin-biting and smoking, drinking heavily and carousing with women and men that they've just met. Before long all of it takes too much of a toll and the thrashing around begins, the restlessness takes completely over and there's no telling what could happen in the volatile conditions. Amazingly, what usually does is some kind of conflict resolution that works itself out and the thaw comes just in time to meet it. The fish and the music of Stars Like Fleas come out on the other side smelling like some abstract roses.
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