In late 2010, Wendy Spitzer, the musical brain behind the avant-pop, Carrboro, NC-based outfit Felix Obelix, experienced the passing of her elderly cellphone, and with it, its familiar ring. A few days into its absence, she realized that that ringtone was the piece of music she had listened to literally the most often in the preceding three years…and on a subconscious level, was the sound that meant someone wanted her. This begged the obvious question: if a ringtone could carry such meaning and weight, why wasn’t it a better piece of music?
From these initial musings, Spitzer began crafting her second full-length release – The Ringtone Album –comprised of 30 one-minute-long, mostly instrumental, fully notated earworms, intended as cellphone ringtones. Her challenge? Pack the punch of a typical song (each with a beginning, middle and end) into about 60 seconds. Determined to give each ringtone the hi-fi treatment it deserved, Spitzer recorded most of the album at the Fidelitorium studio in Kernersville, NC, tracking all organ, bass, piano, marimba, and xylophone parts herself in just three intensive days. Josh Starmer (Birds and Arrows, The Old Ceremony) then added cello, and Terry Lonergan (Hiss Golden Messenger) later lent his talents on the drums.
Mixed and mastered by Nick Peterson (Track and Field) and released by the boutique, Durham-based label Potluck, Felix Obelix’s The Ringtone Album works both as a series of downloadable tunes for your phone, and an album to be listened to in its entirety. Featuring all the hallmarks of Felix Obelix’s idiosyncratic classical/pop/experimental style – mixed meter, unusual instrumentation, interconnecting melodies and rhythms – this may be the most complex and catchy 32 minutes you’ll hear this year.
THE RINGTONE ALBUM
CD / Digital