Montreal Group Freelove Fenner published The punishment area, their first album in eight years, in March. The record mixes lounge pop, jazzy and a new wave arch in a unique crooked style and you can listen to it below.
The band made a video for the album’s opening track, “Find the Man,” which reproduces their album artwork images in a mock art documentary. âThe video for ‘Find the Man’ was shot with a 16mm Bolex and is shot with friends,â Freelove Fenner tells us. âWe were originally supposed to shoot the video in a large empty room but we lost that space at the last minute. Luckily our friend Julia (who plays the boom operator in the video) came by and let us use her hair salon. / art studio, which was much smaller. The change in location meant hastily rethinking all of our plans and working in a much more improvised fashion. Since the song is about a damn production, things probably got off the rails there. Original idea. It was a fun time, and we’re thankful that people let us dress them in questionable gowns. “The video is shown in this article and you can watch it below.
We took this opportunity to find out more about the video, song and album, and asked Freelove Fenner to come up with a list of influences. These include all of Sun Ra, Todd Rundgreen and Chinese crisis instructional videos with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, radio shows, documentaries and more. Check out their list, along with comments, below.
FREELOVE FENNER – 10 INSPIRATIONS BEHIND THE PUNISHMENT ZONE
The epic that never was (1965)
The video and song are inspired by the documentary The epic that never was (1965) on the unfinished film me, Claude (1937). The ill-fated production was based on Robert Graves’ novel depicting the Roman Emperor Claudius. In the documentary, lead actress Merle Oberon (Messaline) recalls how Charles Laughton (Claudius) struggled to “find the man” in his portrayal of the character. Many other incidents doomed the film, including a runaway budget and Oberon injuring himself in a car crash while filming.
Sun Ra – “Love in Space”
Sun Ra’s music is the paragon of pleasant and joyful avant-garde music. We always come back to this song to remind ourselves of what music can really be. Singular and revolutionary, but also universal and full of glorious beauty. “Sunrise, love in its splendor, speaks to me in metaphysical harmonies.”
Phil Manzanera / 801 – Listen now
We found this LP in a church bazaar around the time we were doing the last overdubs on the album. Rhett Davies was one of the engineers, maybe our favorite recorder – everything he’s worked on is so well balanced and interesting: âTakeing Tiger Mountain by Strategyâ by Eno; âGive me Back My Manâ by B52; Wang Chung’s debut album; and his pop hits like “Don’t Stop the Dance” by Bryan Ferry and “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits.
Skeeter Davis & NRBQ – “How Many Tears” (from 1985 album “She Sings, They Play”)
We love NRBQ. They can be frustrating (lots of punishingly bad novelty songs), but when they’re turned on, they can pull everything from concise Sun Ra-inspired skronk to that 60s Nashville Sound issue. On this record, the keyboardist of ‘Q Terry Adams wrote two songs for Skeeter Davis to sing along that we think are even better than his hits from the 1960s.
Jeff “Skunk” Baxter – “American Guitar Technique”
We love music instructional videos from the VHS era. We never seem to really remember the chops, but they are anthropologically fascinating. Former Doobie Brothers / Steely guitarist Dan Skunk Baxter has an infectious enthusiasm for the icy tones of his midi guitar rig.
Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story
This economical VH1 biopic was part of our basic research for “Perfect Master”. The song is inspired by reclusive Def Leppard producer âMuttâ Lange (played by Anthony Michael Hall). Sant Mat. We were curious as to why Sant Mat would reject a young Syd Barrett but accept Mutt and Shania. While the photo doesn’t answer our question, it recreates Leppard drummer Rick Allen’s car crash in a way some might consider tasteless.
Todd Rundgren – “The Love of the Common Man” (from “Faithful” 1976)
Like NRBQ, Todd likes his records to mix gems (this song) with stiletto slot numbers (âBoogies (Hamburger Hell)â). This track has one of our favorite guitar sounds.
Alemayehu Eshete – “Kotuma Fikreye”
As far as we can judge, this Ethiopian TV performance from the 70s is the only recording of this song. Eshete’s flawless production in the ’60s and’ 70s is a huge, but perhaps hard to detect, influence on us – we are in awe of him.
China Crisis – “No More Blue Horizons” (from 1982 lp Difficult Shapes and Passive Rhythms, some people think it’s fun to be entertained)
It is a record that we have listened to several times. Delicate, strange, but also soothing synth pop with Dadaist lyrics.
‘The Cool Blue Flame with Little Danny’ on WFMU / Give the Drummer Radio (Thursday 10 p.m. EST)
Our friend Conor from Brave Radar introduced us to Office Naps on Little Danny’s rare 45’s blog maybe 10 years ago. For the past few years the blog has been silent, but Danny has put on an amazing WFMU show called The cold blue flame. He has a very wide range but a focused mood. The show is everything that Spotify and YouTube’s autoplay algorithms aren’t.