Pulsion is a wonderful word. While transcending languages its duality bridges physics and psychology. In French it is a psychic magnetic force that pulls esoteric elements to their predestination, when Anglicised it is commonly related to engineering and moving forward. Pulsion in all senses of the word is central to the continued adventures of Fenella (a band that unites Jane Weaver and long running compatriots Raz Ullah and Pete Philipson) and their decision to take further steps into their combined compositional universe with this follow-up to 2019’s Fehérlófia album. It’s time to draw your own conclusions from ‘The Metallic Index’.
Opening with images of a train ride, ‘The Metallic Index’ and its 40 minute musical journey could be neatly described as a “Metapsychic melodrama for multiple synthesists”. Loosely based on a genuine story accounting the short-lived abilities of a young psychic nurse in 1920’s London, Fenella’s niche muse justifies this celebratory return to vinyl but not once does it fall into the supposed tropes of staid hauntological-plunderphonics which repeatedly come to muddy our thirsty streams. Fenella make spirited melodic progressive pop music that pulsates with the same magnetism that fans of Jane Weaver’s own ‘The Silver Globe’ and ‘Modern Kosmology’ have come to expect and hold closely.
Attempting to illuminate the youthful, colourful ambitions and abilities of the mysterious ‘Stella C’ alongside her fragility and naivety as a young mother in a pre-technology era, ‘The Metallic Index’ also retains a fluid, heartfelt and ultimately euphoric pop sensibility with a breadcrumb narrative from which inquisitive minds can do their own homework (book lovers dig deep). For those who have been willing to swallow half baked eldritch leftovers flogged under the tiresome “imaginary soundtrack” idiom, then you came to the wrong seance. Handcrafted using a generous archive of some of the best vintage equipment in the country (partly recorded at Soundgas studios in Darkest Derbyshire) the sound structures you hear at the heart of this album form the basis for what is clearly Fenella’s best work yet, while the individual spectral vocalisations and ethereal electronics that circle the room capture this trio’s return, as peripheral visions, in full-phantasmic bloom.