Words by Alexandra Petropoulos
What do Indian raga, bluegrass, klezmer and Mongolian throat singing have in common? Nothing. And maybe that’s exactly what Canadian fiddle virtuoso Jaron Freeman-Fox had in mind when naming his band, The Opposite of Everything. Or maybe his tongue was firmly planted in cheek when recording his second release that vehemently refuses to allow itself to be defined or pigeonholed. There’s a smattering of all the above and more, all filtered through a punk attitude and a deliciously dark sensibility. With roots in jazz and Western classical music, JFF adds in his bluegrass and Indian classical music training to offer up something that is strangely both all and none of these at the same time.
The album’s opener, ‘Auctioneering Everything’, begins with a cacophony of auction chanting before giving way to a dreamlike mixture of Indian music, out of which breaks a bluegrass hoedown. The succeeding tracks weave themselves through gospel, bluegrass and folk with hints of Mongolian throat singing, punk and prog-rock. The mind-blowingly quick ‘The Rabid Rabbi’ is klezmer on speed, and the cover of The Doors’ ‘People are Strange’ is, well, strange. The dark blues-rock and raspy Tom Waits-esque vocals of ‘Back to the Boonies’ is definitely the album’s highlight. But it’s not all wild and edgy – there’s the beautiful, wandering ‘Stray Camino’ and sweet Celtic jazz of the closer ‘Rainwood’. There’s never a boring moment on this fabulously varied album.
TRACK TO TRY: ‘Back to the Boonies’