(Friends of the Fish, 330 pages)
The Incomplete Angler chronicles the rise and rise of UK niche record label Fruits de Mer Records. Written by noted music chronicler Dave Thompson, is has been made as a part of the package that celebrates Fruits de Mer’s first decade as an active label.
This is a sprawling production. More than 200 pages of history, with appendixes of the kind that will make most if not all collectors happy. And as this label, more than anything, have made an impact among collectors, that is as it should be. Chances are that many collectors will spend more time reading the appendixes than the actual biography itself.
One should perhaps also note that this is a book written by a fan and fellow enthusiast. If you want the objective or critical point of view when reading a factual or biographical detail of an entity, this isn’t the book for you. This is a book written by someone enthralled with and in tune with the philosophy of the entity described. On some level perhaps a fan review of the label and it’s history. Which is fitting of course, as this is a part of a celebration, and which does give this book a positive and uplifting mood and spirit throughout. But those who prefer chronicles of this kind to have a distanced, objective perspective will have to look elsewhere.
We are given an insight into this label that is highly detailed nonetheless, explored in a kind of a “I want to tell a detailed story…oh look: Shiny…listen to that noise…what was that sound…including all the details and then some” approach. The various artists contributing on some level or other is given a lot of time and space for their views, up to and including talking about their affairs as well, be it inside or outside of the label history this book is about. Anecdotes are dropped throughout, fact boxes inserted, tangents explored. And besides chronicling all matters Fruis de Mer, this is also the detailed story about Andy Bracken’s own label, from the start until it winded down it’s operations. Most if not all how’s and why’s answered there as well. Later on we are also given a few insights into what might be described as the cousin label Mega Dodo Records, and especially why so many artists release music on both Fruits de Mer Records and Mega Dodo Records.
The Incomplete Angler is an entertaining book. Well made, and with a lot of facts covered in an easygoing, easy to read and uplifting manner. More of a celebration than a biography as such, at least in literary terms, but a book that should be enjoyed on equal levels by existing Fruits de Mer label enthusiasts and music enthusiasts in general. The focus on the collectible aspect of things should make this a fascinating read also for collectors and those with an interest in that specific environment. A book that will be enjoyed by many, and then in particular the audience segments outlined.
My rating: 90/100