by Andrew Frey
January 2009

Madison's acoustic outfit Fermata

Madison's acoustic outfit Fermata

The band Fermata evokes a forgotten gothic era.  An era with a certain raw, earthy melancholy atmosphere permeating all it contacts. Upon consumption of their potent sonic brew, the listener is whisked off to a musical merry-go-round of passion and excitement. Vocal visions are painted for our ears to hear and see. As the visions clear, we find that these spellbinding tales are spoken through the various physical and musical voices of a far flung ensemble from Madison, WI.

After witnessing Fermata’s performance on Dec 15 at High Noon Saloon, time was set aside to find out more about this band. Now, through the modern marvel of e-mail, we have been granted a view into the workings of that which is Fermata.

“We’ve found that the term ‘Chamber Rock’ best describes our sound,” begins band visionary, Jon Koschoreck. “We try to build a sound that combines the intimacy of chamber music and the power of rock.  Plus, the very nature of our instruments allows for a great deal of flexibility in the venues we can play. We can fill a rock club with sound, but also play in a small coffee shop as well. We’ve found that the music appeals to a remarkably large range of people.”
Jon continues by informing us about the bands history and make up, “We formed over the last year, developing our sound and finding each other’s strengths. I have been playing guitar and writing songs for nine years while Cody Davis is a double bassist coming from a background of jazz and classical performance. Karl Stuen is a violist who comes from a strictly classical background with a strong interest in chamber music and Lisa Mazza is a classically trained vocalist. Matthew Manske is a multi-instrumentalist with formal training in jazz guitar, but he performs on mandolin, banjo and accordion with Fermata.”

One thing striking and noteworthy about Fermata is the absence of drumming. “The lack of percussion was a conscience decision from the start,” Koschoreck relates, “We’ve all been in bands with percussion before, so we enjoy the challenge of creating that same rhythm and pulse of percussion using only stringed instruments. These instruments are each separately very expressive and collectively we believe that they compliment each other well and give us a good set of unique musical colors to work with.”

“A melody can have very different interpretations when it’s played on a banjo than it would have being played on an upright bass or piano,” Jon explains, “So, in a way, it’s nice to recognize and utilize these associations to help us paint certain ‘moods’, if you will, with our music. It’s also useful to consciously break away form these associations and expand the listener’s experience.”

This experience works in conjunction with Fermata’s vocal style and lyrical content. “I get ideas for songs from everywhere,” Koschoreck notes, “Nature is one of the predominant themes that run through Fermata’s music. Sometimes it’s something that’s happened to me, or a part of a conversation I’ve overheard. Sometimes it’s the raw emotion of a personal event, but worked up into a fictionalized story. Currently, three of the songs on our new release ‘Only Ghosts Remain’ have short stories that are written behind them. A fourth is in the works.”

Before closing, Jon takes time for one final plug, “Our debut album ‘Only Ghosts Remain’ will be officially released on January 30th at the Frequency in Madison. We believe that the music will appeal to those who are hungry to find new music and explore it beyond just the surface. Also, the band has been working on finding local visual artists who are into the music and have them to do a piece inspired by a song on the album. We hope to have an art showing/performance sometime in February or March.”

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Fermata Online:

CD: Only Ghosts Remain Record Label: Self Released