Some Reviews

Thanks to Craig Unkrich for unearthing these reviews.
Song list and music here.

Bruce Kalberg

From Phil McKenna

Italians with a Jones for Number Sequences
1/29/2000—Progressive Ears website

I guess I’m in an obtuse mood tonight, as my nightowl side continues to hold sway (I guess that’s part of why I’ve always dug owls).

But anyway, MEANWHILE (there’s that Batman narrator again), IN THE FASHION VICTIM/HAIR-METAL BAND 1980s, A GROUP OF L.A. RESIDENTS WAS DETERMINED TO MAKE SOME VERY SUBSTANTIAL MUSIC EVEN IF IT DIDN"T HAVE SEQUENCERS, DRUM MACHINES, AND WHINY, ANGST RIDDEN LEAD SINGERS.

I am referring to noneother than a brave and twisted bunch of Angelinos called collectively The Fibonaccis (named after an Italian mathematician in the 12th century that had a thing for number sequences). The Fibs were around in the 1980s and clearly, much to the delight of their loyal audiences (I saw them several times live, and it was a HOOT!!!) They consisted of Magie Song on lead vocals, John Dentino on keyboards, including the then unfashionable Mellotron, and a Casio, among other things, Ron Stringer on guitar, Joe Berardi on drums, percussion and stray metals, and Tom Corey (I think that was his last name) on bass, voice and mandolin, as well as biting humor. Musically, it was a wild, wonderful and sometimes hilarious mix of Fellini film music, symphonic prog, Zappa-esque biting humor (even including a song with a line like, “I jabbed a potato peeler into the Disgusting Man’‘s eye—he was in desperate need of medical attention, but I refused to take him to a hospital”), odd meters, menacing Mellotron (including a brilliant cover of the shower scene music, and main title from Alfred Hitchock’s PSYCHO), even bits of circus music, waltzes, Spaghetti Western guitar and God only knows what else. It was a scream to see these guys live!!! They had a close brush with commercial success when they did the soundtrack to a late 80s horror movie called Terrorvision.

They can best be heard on a compilation called Repressed (on the Restless/Enigma label methinks). Titles of their other work include fi-bo-na-cheez, the Slow Beautiful Sex EP (the back cover of which was copied from an old John Coltrane album, and the liner notes doctored), Terrorvision (movie soundtrack), and finally, Civilization and its Discotheques They broke up in the late 80s, sadly though. Some members of the Fibonaccis are part of an experimental big-band of sorts called The Motor-Totemist Guild.

These guys come highly recommended!! Prepare to laugh, cry, puncture accordians and watch Spaghetti Westerns!!

—Philbass_2000
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Thanks to Craig Unkrich for unearthing these reviews:

Civilizaton and its Discotheques / The Fibonaccis

Blue Yonder Sounds label

Music Connection magazine- November 16, 1988

by John Trubee

Civilization and its Discotheques is the finest Fibonaccis record release to date. Unlike certain previous releases which subverted the band sound to a dance/rock beat to garner radio play (which never materialized) or their contribution to a (I’ve been told) poorly edited movie soundtrack, this record appears to be the result of them creating their best music for their own aesthetic satisfactions. The success of this platter is due to lack of submissive kowtowing to crass commercial pressures. The result is a gorgeously packaged product and a beautiful sounding record.

  The songs here vividly project the Fibs’ image, which is sometimes described as cabaret music from hell. “Old Mean Ed Gein” documents the true story of a homicidal maniac in Wisconsin who accumulated quantites of human remains on his isolated farm. The singer’s perspective is that of a worshipful follower entranced with a bloodthirsty guru. The song contains no swear words therefore the PMRC is unable to censor it and prevent all the innocent little children who hear it from taking after Mr. Gein. “Some Men” is a dreamy melodic song about a mystical misogynist who would “like to take all of my friends and crush them like ants.” Warbling synthesizer, bongos, and weeping slide guitar provide a lush background for such tasteful lines as, “He’s got some funny ideas/He says all woman are liars/One night he’ll swoop down with his needle and thread/To seal in my desires.”

  A particularly artful song is “Crickets,” featuring an untitled Emily Dickinson poem set to music by guitarist Ron Stringer. Textures provided by the guitar through some flanger of chorus device and John Dentino playing some flute sound on mellotron combine to create an entrancing atmosphere that works perfectly with the poetry of the lyrics. Magie Song’s overdubbed vocal duo harmony is kinda neat, as well.

  The groovy tune “Leroy” is spoken from the point of view of a disturbed little girl who does bad things to her brother in retaliation for not relinquishing her shoes.

  It is based on some film called The Bad Seed, which I have never seen because I don’t own a TV and I never go to movies. Piano clusters stumble as the bad little girl makes excuses for herself. A nice touch.

  This is a good record. This is a great record. A collection of superbly crafted songs made by an intelligent band (isn’t that a contradiction in terms?) is essentially what this record is about. Albums like this are rare and beautiful artifacts in the midst of a sick culture choking to death on its own greed and money-puke. We need more beauty for beauty’s sake. An appreciating pat on the back to the Fibonaccis for making this.

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OPTION MAGAZINE

ISSUE: circa 1986

“Fibonaccis”

by Paul Burton

WHEN THE FIBONACCIS opened their set at the New Music America festival in Los Angeles recently with their Resident-like “Romp of the Meiji Sycophants,” they sounded as if they were parodying the evening’s New Music pretensions. John Dentino’s electro-gamelan DX-7 and Top Corey’s hyper-vibrato mandolin skated over Joe Berardi’s temple block percussion and Magie Song’s cheesy cymbal crashes in a quasi-oriental sing-song that could have been theme music for “The Odd Couple” if it had been made in Taiwan. That a self-styled art bar band playing avant-pop music could even be included among Morton Subotnic, Carla Bley, Daniel Lentz, and Harold Budd as representatives of New Music shows that someone noticed wit and intelligence behind the Fibonaccis’ subversion of style and fracturing of form.

The Fibs brought literacy and intelligence to “New Wave” in 1981 with their “Fellini-circus-chamber-muzak-from-hell” combination of spaghetti western flavors with cynical and somber poetry. Their debut EP on Index won critical raves and established the band as a creative and original presence on the L.A.Scene, but record companies and radio practically ignored the Fibonaccis. How do you program the Fibs’ version of Bernard Herrmann’s theme music from “Psycho” on AOR radio? How do you market a group that plays the funky song “Tumor” (which asks, “When the tumor comes…who you gonna screw?”)alongside the Kabuki cabaret of “Rice Song”? A band whose musical influences have been described as “incomprehensibly vast” is hard to peg into the square black hole of Radio Americana and recycled rock cliches, yet the Fibonaccis continue to evolve and expand their musical and lyrical horizons.

On stage the Fibs are a tight unit, swinging from the movin’ and groovin’ jazz of"Disgusting Man” and the dreamy “Somnambulist” into the Oompah-ska “Love Machine Polka"and ethno-warp disco of “Action Yogi” (“he’s a new kind of guru/his temple is a Subaru”). Keyboardist Dentino qualifies as the Salvador Dali of the DX-7, with an infinite palette of musical colors juxtaposed and blended into a thinking person’s guide to “civilization and its discotheques.” Bassist Tom Corey doubles on guitar, picking up where original guitarist Ron Stringer left off, playing syncopated R&B riffs and weaving fluid, melodic lines around Magie Song’s operatic vignettes. Drummer Joe Berardi’s percussion creates its own musical presence, utilizing subtle wood block arpeggios, quick bursts of raw power, and propulsive jazz-rock. A hallmark of the Fibs’ sound seems to be a rinky-dink, almost jauntiness with lyrics that convey a darkness and danger that below the bubbly surface - an area populated by outcasts, geeks and sociopathic characters.

“I think the part of our personalities that makes us want to deal with these kinds of characters is the impulse of malicious joy,“explains Dentino. This attitude is conveyed most dramatically in Magie’s rendition of Rhoda Pennmark’s soliloquy from The Bad Seed in the song of the same name, as Magie becomes the voice of childish cruelty, taunting and prancing, chanting “I kept hitting him, and hitting him, and hitting him…”. In “Old Mean Ed Gein” Magie plays a teenage girl writing to Charles Manson about her new hero, Ed Gein, who “introduced me to the beauty of bones.” (In real life Ed Gein was a farmer in rural Wisconsin who was arrested for the murder of a local woman in 1957 and kept a collection of female body parts,culled from the local graveyard, that he fashioned into masks and ornaments.) If the Fibonaccis repertoire sounds like an X-rated National Enquirer, listen to “Dancing With The Bears,” the Fibs’ only overtly political song, wherein “the President is fat and angry and he shakes his tiny head/half the people on his island have their name on apiece of lead.” The Fibs have elevated a fascination with morbidity and decadence into wry social commentary.

In 1984, the Fibonaccis produced their first video, a hilarious send-up of cults,deprogrammers, and 60’s casualties in their twisted rendition of “Purple Haze.” “Purple Haze” can be heard on the Radio Tokyo Vol. 2 compilation, and a live version of “Disgusting Man” leads off the recently released Lives of the Lhasa collection. The Fibs have also recorded a soundtrack piece, “Looking For Eddie,” for the Film Noir cassette released by Ding Dong Records in the Netherlands.

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Los Angeles Times CALENDAR

June 27, 1982

L.A. Beat

FIBONACCIS ARE ROTA ROOTERS

By Jeff Spurrier

When it comes to putting a label on Fibonacis’ (fee-bow-NAH-chees) music, keyboarist John Dentino is open to suggestions.

“How about Euro-techno-disco-Fellini-circus-chamber-music?” he offers.

“Or porno-disco-mobile-home-park-Muzak?”

“Or elevator music from hell”

Whatever the category, the group’s oddly framed musical posture is attracting attention. Its seven-song debut EP is due shortly on Index Records.

The Fibonaccis, which also includes guitarist Ron Stringer, vocalist Magie Song, and drummer Joe Berardi, combines a tongue-in-cheek humor with a repertoire that ranges from a lampoon version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” to a wry treatment of Bernard Herrmann’s “Theme From Psycho” to its own quirky compositions.

“I think we’re a bit more sophisticated musically than some other bands,” maintains Stringer. “We introduce strange musical elements without being pompous. I think people enjoy musical surprises. Hopefully, even when we do ‘Psycho’, we give the impression of just tossing it off.”

While “just tossing it off” might sound like the remark of a seasoned pro, only drummer Berardi has previous band experience. Just 8 months old, the Fibonaccis are still establishing an identity.

“We’re in an ingenue stage right now so every new song is in a new mode,” continues Stringer. “We’re trying so many things that not many songs resemble each other. It may not be the best way to establish an image but for now it’s the most exciting way to work.”

One aspect of the Fibonaccis’ sound that is fairly consistent if the influence of Italian composer Nino Rota, noted for his sound tracks to Fellini’s “8 1/2,” “Juliet of the Spirits” and other films.

“The Nino Rota thing is not really conscious imitation,” says Dentino. “It’s just that at one point last year I was listening to his ‘Casanova’ sound track constantly. Also because of our instrumentation and musical tastes, some things come out sounding like him.”

Besides a catchy carnival-sounding keyboard tone, Magie Song’s frenzied “characterizations” are one of the band’s main lures on stage.

“A lot of the songs Magie sings are diatribes,” explains Stringer. “The lyrics are portraits of people - they’re caricatures.”

Magie’s caricatures are not always understood by the audiences. But rather than be put off by the sometimes hostile reactions, she seems to enjoy it: “One of the best shows I can remember was at USC when we opened for Oingo Boingo,” she says. “About 30% of the audience hated us. They kept screaming at me and I made caustic remarks back. I liked it because something was really going on. A lot of times people just sit there with their mouths open.”

It’s important to get a reaction, Dentino agrees: “At the beginning we would get disheartened when we would get a negative response, but I think that’s the wrong attitude,” he says. “Any reaction is good.”


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