FSK International (Catamount)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Nov. 10, 2000
International (Catamount)FSK is a German band that originally formed in 1980. Their early sound was an art/punk hybrid, which quickly deteriorated into a bastardized version of oompah-laden Bavarian roots music mixed with good old American country & western. These days, they have an affinity for lo-fi electronica, which explains the brief keyboard-heavy interludes on International, yet doesn't quite capture what they've accomplished on only their second stateside CD. David Lowery (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven) is now a member, and produces as well as sings throughout, accounting for the Camper-like quality of the music, especially the carnival-like tone on "I Want Out of the Circus" and the twisted horns on "Mein Kubano Girl." There's even a cover of one of Cracker's better-known songs, "Eurotrash Girl," here given a highly electronic reading that hues close to Kraftwerk. Elsewhere, FSK is not so easily pigeonholed. Their music is the opposite of aural wallpaper: Pay attention and gain musical rewards; leave it on in the background and it's a profound distraction. Some lyrics are in German, lending an increased air of difficulty, but the melodies are straightforward and -- like the good punks they are -- FSK has composed 60 minutes of sharp sociopolitical commentary. There's even a song about Jane Fonda that mixes zydeco accordion with a melody lifted from the Beach Boys and a refrain that goes, "Bar-bar-bar, bar-Barbarella." Surely a more peculiar band than FSK would be hard to find.