Pittsburgh’s Fuzznaut conjure dusty journey, create tributes to fallen stars with ‘Apophenia’

There are people out there—the person writing this passage may be one of them—who have a tendency to see connections between things that are unrelated. I could go on and on about the different ways this has played a role in my life and the solutions I have tried to diffuse the situation, but this is a heavy music blog, not necessarily a place for my personal therapy sessions.

Pittsburgh’s Emilio Rizzo, the mastermind behind drone/doom project Fuzznaut, chose the title “Apophenia” after hearing the word used on a true crime podcast, yet another thing here in which I heavily relate. Add that phenomenon to the pandemic, people buying into conspiracy theories and purposeful misinformation, and you have the recipe for a disaster. There certainly are threads of darkness sewn through these six songs, and how could there not be considering what we’ve all been through? But in the midst of that also is tribute to fallen heroes, namely Gared O’Donnell of the criminally underappreciated Planes Mistaken for Stars and guitar god Eddie Van Halen, adding a sad reminder that life is fragile, and we don’t always have with us the people who helped put us on our path.

The title track starts things, the drone spreading as the guitars flex, traveling through dust and developing a desert vibe. Ominous tones darken skies, but then light beams through and lessens the murk, pavement melts, and everything unfolds before zapping into space. “Parasitic Oscillation” delivers scuffed guitars and dirty quivering as steely melodies intertwine with the light. Things get sludgier and charring as agitated riffs strike, the doomy storm thickens, and the spirit then bleeds way. “What You Seek (Seeks You)” jostles as it enters, slowly unfurling into dissonance, the sounds thinning out like a rain easing up and letting sun through. Distorted leads burn and mystify, and that leads to burlier playing and noises hanging in the air before dissolving.

“Hawks Over Fifth” feels atmospheric and rough at the same time, the guitars heading into strange air as hypnosis begins to take hold. Things get dusty and grungy as the spirit of the thing floats through the air and into your vulnerable lungs. “Seconds Between a Swing and a Hit” (inspired by O’Donnell) opens with a lonesome vibe, the guitars echoing and flooding the senses. The vibe turns moody and rather sinister as your flesh chills, the playing buzzes and reverberates, and everything hurdles off into space. Closer “5184” contains a main riff that was written Oct. 6, 2020, the day Eddie Van Halen died, a fitting tribute from one guitarist to another. The playing trickles and trudges and at times makes the darkness take hold, but then gritty guitar work unlocks hidden sunshine. The playing still haunts in the midst of all of that, and the final moments mangle your psyche before finally letting go.

Rizzo creates an immersive and highly listenable collection of guitar and drone dirges on “Apophenia,” something you can put on if you need time for reflection or you just want to burn one as a long day comes to an end. Fuzznaut is a project that likely will find favor with Earth fans as well as those following local smokers The Long Hunt, and the trip you take here is numbing and slightly mind altering. This is a journey through a dry heat, but one that’ll feel oddly calming and psychologically rewarding.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/fuzznaut

To buy the album, go here: https://fuzznaut.bandcamp.com/album/apophenia

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