Ffehro is the duo of Michael Donnelly and Ian Macintyre. Donnelly is best known for his work as Terracid or in the duo with his sister, Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood. He is an increasingly prolific artist who never sacrifices quality for the quantity. Even though he launches new releases monthly, they always have something to offer and never fail to impress.
"The Zeventeen Voting Cardinals" was recorded during the last days of Pope John Paul II, or say Donnelly would have you believe. How true that is really has little importance. What we get on this single 35 minute excursion are the swampy ruins of an ancient capital city, sinking slowly into the bowels of the earth. With a variety of instruments, this duo sounds like an entire ensemble. Donnelly's trademarked jazz-skronk drumming provides the floor for everything else to be built upon. It's magic. Acoustic guitars are plucked and bowed to oblivion, while various electronics and synthesizers add a modernist perspective. The two sides, old and new, come together in perfect harmony.
This track aurally depicts its own death. It devolves constantly until it reaches little more than an electronic rumble with minimal percussion. This is the moment it reaches the end of its life, but the track, and journey, is not over. Once it's fully absorbed into the marshes, there is salvation, and Donelly and MacIntyre do not forget this. Acoustic guitar strums backed by synthesized spaced-out flutterings are a celebration of the life left behind and the afterworld ahead. Donnelly sings in his raspy-growl into oblivion. It's a beautiful end to a stunning track.
Ffehro have offered some unique recordings before, always searching out new ground to trample. But on "The Zeventeen Voting Cardinals," they reach their feverpitch. This is an excellent piece of work and sits right up with the best offerings from Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood, Terracid, etc. Recommended. 8/10 -- Brad Rose (18 July, 2005)