“Fungus II” is a fuzzy, low-fi journey featuring quality instrumentation from Ty Segall and Brian Chippendale.
By Gavin Majeski
In 2018, Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale and psych rock guitarist Ty Segall recorded “Fungus II” in secrecy. During January of this year the two announced the album’s release date and teased the single, “Double the Dream.” Featuring punchy drumming, screamed vocals from Segall and wailing guitar chords, this track along with “All is Lost” set the tone before the album’s official release.
When looking at “Fungus II” as a whole, it resembles more of a Segall album rather than Chippendale’s solo act Black Pus or even duo band, Lightning Bolt. The vocals are shouted and reverberated, unlike Segall’s usual 70s psychedelic rock inflection. The vast majority of tracks feature distorted and dissonant guitar chords, while Chippendale’s drumming booms, yet feels filtered by a scuzzy lo-fi effect. Though a unique stylistic choice, the drumming almost feels neutered compared to Chippendale’s normal repertoire. Chippendale’s most telling feature of heavy snare drum use feels lacking on “Fungus II.”
Even when sticking to the fuzzy lo-fi aesthetics, tracks like “The Purple One,” “Harsho” and “Fist is My Ward” feature unique aspects that diversify from the rest of the album. “The Purple One” utilizes an acoustic guitar and minimal snare output from Chippendale, instead opting for tambourine and heavy bass drum use. “Harsho” begins with a glitched, almost electronic intro that transitions into some of Chippendale’s best drumming and Segall’s best vocal performance. Add that with a stellar baseline and you get the grooviest track on the record.
The demonic vocal inflection of “Fist is My Ward” is a interesting stylistic choice, but doesn’t mold well with the subpar vocal performance Segall bounces back and forth from on the track. While the screams from Segall do an excellent job on “Double the Dream” and “All is Lost,” the album as a whole lacks vocal consistency and is unpredictable.
When it comes to finishing off the short, 32 minute LP, Chippendale and Segall are unable to impress. The self-titled interlude track, “Fungus II,” adds nothing to the record and features irritating vocals that are absurdly pitched. The closing track, “Four Strangers Enter the Cement at Dusk,” would be an excellent finish if only the first half wasn’t repetitive, uninspired and uselessly drawn out. By the time the song explodes at the 3:39 mark, the listener is already in a comatose state. Either cutting the entire first half or making the instrumental progression engaging would have ended “Fungus II” on a much higher note.
Favorite Tracks: All is Lost, Zeppelin 5, Fist is My Ward, Harsho, Double the Dream, The Purple One, Eagle Slaughters Graduation