Fredo Viola – A Wonderland in Voice & Sound
Review by Marty B. Stone
Why Woodstock ~ December 26, 2014
I first heard Fredo Viola at an “open mike” session at the Helsinki Restaurant in Hudson, NY. I was immediately struck by Fredo’s fresh sounds and the wide versatility of his voice and musical arrangements. Fredo draws from many musical genres and styles, combining them with a skill and uniquely delicate touch that is frequently nothing short of remarkable. Listening to each of Fredo’s diverse and growing body of songs is an adventure, as each is unique – filled with unexpected twists, turns and delightful journeys in sound and music.
Fredo paints the musical landscape with his voice and seamlessly integrates other singers, traditional and unique instruments and sound generators with exceptional skill. He weaves a tapestry of sound that is often magical in form. During one of his songs at the Helsinki he kept the beat by stomping his foot on the stage. The audience echoed back by stomping along in time – creating a dynamic and exciting interchange with the audience that was woven into the performance.
The delightful versatility of Fredo Viola may be seen in some of his “acoustic sessions” as the diverse and innovative techniques underlying his unique vocal and instrumental arrangements can be seen and understood. In this rendition of “The Turn,” Fredo’s voice gracefully and magically weaves its way around the instrumental and vocal accompaniments, seeming to reflect the title of the song.
My sentiments for the fresh originality of Fredo’s music are echoed in this review by Christopher Evans:
Abstract from review by Christopher Evans of AllMusic
“When a musician can boast such a command of melody and a voice of such soaring intensity as Fredo Viola, you could be forgiven for anticipating a record that’s all too eager to stake out its comfort zone and defend it to the death. Yet while most singer/songwriters who know how to craft a tune are content to do just that…Viola uses that facility purely as a launching pad for some of the most audacious and thrilling vocal arrangements to be heard on a pop record for many a year.
Viola says he initially multi-tracked his voice to fill in for all the instruments he couldn’t play. Yet in doing so he has inadvertently evolved a technique that, while it evokes sources as diverse as tribal chants, doo wop, Ligeti, Gregorian chant, and the Beach Boys at their most psychedelic, ultimately leaves you with that rarest of feelings — that you are in the presence of something truly original…Yet while the voice is Viola’s weapon of choice, his instrumental arrangements — mostly keyboard-based — are full of immaculately tailored sonic adventure…Fredo Viola is confirmation, if it were needed, that there’s a very real distinction to be made between pushing envelopes for the sake of it and letting the imagination soar.”