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After the dissolution of their acclaimed dreamy, droney bliss-pop outfit Jessamine, keyboardist Andy Brown and guitarist Rex Ritter relocated from Seattle to Portland and launched their new project, Fontanelle. With their new band, the pair has employed a variable lineup to further explore the warm, ambient synth-and-guitar sound towards which Jessamine was moving at the time of its breakup.

Multiple guitars, multiple keyboards, and drums dance together to produce intricate, complex streams of eddying sound. The crisp, clean compositions on Fontanelle's self-titled debut (which features "29th & Going" and "Niagara") have the flavor of restrained, contained jazz improvisation, the result, perhaps, of the album's mode of production: live, home studio improvisations edited by computer. As warm and ambient as this band sounds, their sound is far from relaxing; rather, they invoke the slightly dangerous, tense, exotic flavor of Herbie Hancock's late '60s/early '70s electric piano work and the hallucinatory, hypnotic qualities of '70s krautrock. This is complicated, intelligent stuff: Fontanelle will take more than a few listens to digest fully, but it will be time well spent.

Released in 2001, Fontanelle's F is a collection of tracks taken from three years of recording sessions, including those which produced the band's debut album. It's a heady, more experimental effort featuring (at times) three keyboards, two guitars, and two drummers, overall more inclined toward sleepy, repetitive, improvised jams, and quirky IDM-inspired electronic sounds. F is available on CD from Kranky (who provide "Fulcrum" and "Slow January") and on limited 12-inch vinyl from the Portland label Audraglint (who provide "Charm & Strange").

Fontanelle returned in 2002 with their third full-length, Style Drift. On it the group continues to explore their peculiar bround of swinging ambient instrumentalism, combining soft funk with spacey jazz, then sprinkling in an array of IDM electronic gadgetry. Fontanelle connects past and present, analog and digital. With its funky drums, stringy Wurlitzer lines, and computer sounds, Style Drift feels like a contemporary update on the classic spooky funk of Bitches Brew.