Verbal Fenster, is an American experimental minimalistic post-punk rock music duo formed in San Bernardino California, formed in 2000 by filmmaker/musician Joel U. O’Neal and drummer Shawn Donnelly. A truly bi-coastal union, Pennsylvania native Donnelly and California native O’Neal met in 1994 when Shawn and his brother were looking for a singer for their band Fathom. While working together they learned that they had similar influences, inspirations, and aspirations.

Fathom dissolved in 1997 after three years of playing in the Inland Empire underground music scene. Shawn and Joel continued their collaboration by forming Circles of Three, which later morphed into the duo Verbal Fenster.

Verbal Fenster incorporates jazz improvisation into their ideology, performance, and writing through the fleeting collision of their unrehearsed actions and reactions. Between 2007-2010, the band released their debut LP Pushing Underworld, and the EPs Anything Un-official and June, under a now-defunct record label. They continued to record and perform until a break in 2013, when Donnelly moved back to Pennsylvania and O’Neal went on to pursue filmmaking, forming his own production company Ground Root Pictures. Four years later, after writing and directing his second feature film Happenstance, O’Neal had the opportunity to travel to Pennsylvania to visit his old bandmate. During the 10-day visit, they created over 60 hours of new musical material.

Over the course of the next three years, the duo would form the online service JamKazam, which enabled them to continue Verbal Fenster by allowing them to virtually play together from across the country while recording in real-time. With so much unreleased material and producing so much more through JamKazam, they decided it was time to distribute beyond their long-time underground fan base.

They developed a three-volume conceptual album called Kokoro, a Japanese word that symbolizes the spirit, mind, heart, and body as a whole. The 35-track, 2-hour, and 22-minute retrospective celebrating their 22 years as a duo, was released on the auspicious date of 02/22/2022. The album mixes old and new materials separated by theme (Spirit, Mind, Heart, and Body).

Bringing to mind One Foot In The Grave/Stereopathetic Soulmanure era-Beck, Sonic Youth, and Sebadoh, the band delves into a cacophony of noise, fuzz guitars, screams and hypnotic chant. They fearlessly crawl through the sonic swamps of Mordor, taking the art noise to levels of the purely avant-garde.

Cut Through was “written and performed over the course of an hour” on opposite sides of the country through the miracle of the internet.

The pair have released several albums’ worth of material, including Edit This and Cut Through – so buckle up, you’re in for a dissonant ride.

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