Now known primarily as a singer-songwriter in his own right, until just recently, Rhode Island native Fred Abong was best known as bassist in Throwing Muses, alongside the powerful tour-de-force that is Kristin Hersh, a friendship that still carries today, as obvious from the fact that she even filmed his latest video for the single ‘Invisible Man’. Friday brings the release of Abong’s new long-play ‘Our Mother of Perpetual Help’ (OMOPH), plus the release of an additional lyrics video for ‘Invisible Man’. Earlier, Abong released the lead track ‘The Minit’.
So welcome back Fred Abong – this is a stellar album and the deep voice realism he channels here is a wake-up call for an outgoing year that has, on the surface, been a very harsh year all-round. A good soundtrack to get us to the next level, so to speak. Self-recorded and produced, Abong’s solo music has alternately been described as “ragged Replacements” and “Elliott Smith with balls”. This new album was jointly mixed and mastered at Stable Sounds in Portsmouth, RI by Abong and producer Steve Rizzo, renowned for his work with Kristin Hersh, Throwing Muses and Cindy Wilson of The B-52’s.
“These two videos for ‘Invisible Man’ play with the way visual imagery can alter the effect of a song. One video foregrounds the lyrics and music – the core components of a song. Here, the background images are just that – background – as they should be. The other video is a faux-film about the life of a mysterious being whose story has captured the imagination of ‘the public’, a public that has decided to weigh in on both his and the film’s worthiness. Most importantly, the song takes a back seat to the imagery, which in my opinion is both ass-backward and an accurate representation of a primary focus of the music industry – image,” says Fred Abong.
“I will always insist that songs should be experienced and ‘understood’ at the auditory level. We more readily detect falsity through what we hear than what we see. A con artist may flash a winning smile, but his voice will betray malicious intent. This is the danger of images; they are representations of something, not the thing itself. They arise out of and play upon the flexibility and malleability of the mind in order to create ‘ideas’ or ‘knowledge’ about the thing being ‘imaged’. But these ideas may or may not be accurate. Manipulation is a strong possibility when images are involved. Songs are different. They are effusions of the heart, and the heart can’t lie. Nor can it create images. It always tells the truth, even if the truth is that you’re lying.”
This album follows up Abong’s ‘Pulsing’ EP, released in spring of 2019, and ‘Homeless’ EP (2018). Prior to the current pandemic, Fred toured the USA and UK with Kristin Hersh (both as opening act and as part of her electric trio), as well as playing several live dates with Throwing Muses. Abong also collaborates with art rock collective The Pull of Autumn, for which he contributed ‘Vanishing Spell’ and ‘Equinox’.
Perhaps best known as bass player in the influential art-punk band Throwing Muses during the ‘Real Ramona’ period. Before recently returning to music, he spent roughly a decade in academia, completing a Ph.D. in Humanities and then working as an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies, Philosophy, and English Departments at various universities.
As of November 20, the full ‘Our Mother of Perpetual Help’ album will be available everywhere digitally. It can be obtained directly from the artist via Bandcamp.
1. The Minit
4. Kissing Carnival
5. Electro Panic
6. The Lock
8. In Bed
9. Invisible Man
10. Capital P