Maurice Fulton (BOOF) is a maestro of production value, adept at so many different sub-genres, and he's been at it for so long that he seems guaranteed not to fail. Almost 30 years since "Gypsy Woman", Rebirth of Gerberdaisy affirms all his gifts.
Rebirth of Gerberdaisy
Bubble Tease Communications
17 April 2020
Any list of house music legends is incomplete without Maurice Fulton. He's been at it since the early '90s, when he co-produced Crystal Waters' smash-hit "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)", one of the biggest house tracks of the decade. Yet, for all his brilliance, Fulton has never received the attention many of his lesser contemporaries have. Why? He generally steers clear of the spotlight, denying interviews and press coverage, letting his art speak for itself. He also releases music under a dizzying array of aliases, which makes it hard for casual fans to keep up or know where to start.
There isn't exactly a "theme" to each of Fulton's projects. In general, though, his releases under BOOF tend to be flowery and bright (each album cover even features a photo of a flower). Meanwhile, his music under Syclops is usually harder, darker, and more compact. His last full-length as Syclops, Pink Eye, was an overstimulating ride of distortion, odd time signatures, and pulsing industrial beats. His last LP as BOOF, The Hydrangeas Whisper, stayed true to its name, full of airy synths, clean guitar, and gentle machine drums.
Most Fulton albums, however, defy easy categorization. Rebirth of Gerberdaisy is no exception. The album, released by Bubble Tease Communications, is his latest under the BOOF moniker. In a way, it's a return to his old form, full of the spacey, cosmic, free-flowing sonics that typified '90s house. But like any Fulton record, it's tough to pin down. At times it's classic Fulton; other times, it sounds like nothing else in his back catalogue.
Tracks like "Chicken with Waffles", for instance, are pure '90s. Here, we have a clapping beat and jangly guitar playing over a deep bass groove that calls to mind early Metro Area recordings. It's probably the second cheeriest song on the album, after the opener, "In the Building". This song features a ridiculously catchy organ melody playing over a jumpy machine drum and sparkling synths. If it isn't the best moment on the record, it's at least the brightest.
Things take a dark turn on "Japanese Indian Shrimp Curry", which has an Indian classical flavor to it. Fulton employs a spooky flute passage over sitars, woody percussion, and a distant rattle. It's the one song on the album which has nothing even remotely "techno" about it, aside from occasional machinelike howls that are meant to imitate the sound of a flute. "Ana's F Is Chillin" feels comically dark, by comparison. The track calls to mind Kraftwerk's Computer World, with its retro, alien-like blips, and a sinister keyboard melody that sounds like the introductory music for some cartoon villain.
The back end of the album is generally less colorful than the front end, however. "Luam Has Found her Z" features raw, skittering drums and beautiful filter sweeps over an unforgettable dub-techno groove. But after that, the album veers into blander territory here and there. "Wind Tunnel" is an interesting experiment in sound design, with its whooshing, echoey synths—meant to mimic the sound of wind—but it lacks the kick to make it a great song. "D to the A Train" is plagued by a similar problem. The track features a wonderfully upbeat flute intro and classic house beat, but at six minutes, there isn't enough going on melodically to make it stand out. Rebirth may not have a "bad" track, but its back half occasionally suffers from under-stimulation.
That's not to detract from track eight, "The Force Is Going Backwards", though. It's one of the most colorful songs on the LP. Fulton kicks things off with an extremely submerged, low-frequency bass, gradually adding a clapping beat, raw percussion, and gentle chimes as the song goes on. On tracks like "The Force", it's not so much the beat or the melody that makes the difference, but the texture, the crispness of each sound. Nothing in Fulton's music feels distilled or watered down. Unlike most techno, the music never sounds purified of its more human elements. The guitar solo on the title track, for instance, is so clean, so raw, it sounds like it's coming to us live. That has always been Fulton's greatest strength; he makes the inorganic seem organic, the filtered seem raw.
At this point, three decades in, Maurice Fulton's success is beginning to feel automatic. He's a veteran at his craft. While he's still capable of writing n non-hooky tune here and there, he's simply not capable of doing so for ten tracks in a row. Fulton is a maestro of production value, adept at so many different sub-genres, and he's been at it for so long that he seems guaranteed not to fail. Almost 30 years since "Gypsy Woman", Rebirth of Gerberdaisy affirms all his gifts. The LP is a worthy addition to the Boof canon.