Posts Tagged ‘Hop-Hop’

Weeping Prophet Records – 31st July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The facts and the pitch are that Fuse Box City is a new London based band. They combine indie and electronic with noise and melody; the intricate layering of which produces a rich sound that provides a platform for Rachel Kenedy’s fragile yet mellifluous vocals to sit on top. Talking about the stuff that matters all in the same breath.

I like hybridity and eclecticism, and have developed an increasing appreciation of some of the 80s samplist / looping acts that broke through in the late 80s. It wasn’t immediately apparent at the time, but this wasn’t about simply making dance music and turntable scratching and drum machines: this was utilising emerging technology to create a soundtrack to our ever-faster, ever more fragmented experience of life.

Revisiting the spirit of then makes sense to an extent: we’re witnessing even less comprehensible times, even faster, more fragmentary lives, and even niftier tech while in a position to cast an eye back over recent history.

But sometimes blending lo-fi indie and experimental electronica and throwing in bits of prog and 80s hip-hop means the elements don’t always gel especially well, and ‘Shine On’ makes for a shaky, somewhat chaotic and disjointed start.

Maybe it’s a matter of adjustment, or maybe the band really do find their groove better as the album progresses, and it’s when they slow things down a bit as they do first on ‘Pub Licker’ and then on ‘Crossing Swords’ that things begin to feel rather more cohesive, and find FBC explore a territory that sounds like a trip-hop reimagining of Young Marble Giants.

The album’s closer marks another departure: the thirteen-minute ‘Bendy One’ starts out a low, slow semi-ambient work with a murky beat stuttering away like a fibrillating heart, and low in the mix before slowly taking form: the beat becomes ore solid, regular, insistent, and comes to dominate a vague wash of a droning backdrop which stretches and yawns and swells behind Kenedy’s soaring choral vocal. Somewhere along the way it emerges as a new ag stomper with a thumping tribal beat and some squirming electronics that bubble away in the background of some approximation of a celebratory sunset incantation.

The end product seems to be that of a band who are ideas-rich and unafraid to experiment, while still finding their feet and sense of direction. Despite its messier moments, which often boil down to execution as much as concept, it’s a bold debut, and never uninteresting or uninspired.

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Ipecac Recordings – 1st September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Dälek have always been about progress and evolution, and not only remaining contemporary but pushing the parameters. Since they emerged in ’98, they’ve stood at the forefront of the challenging end of hip-hop, a genre which has witnessed immense expansion over the last two decades – but has equally seen its horizons shrink dramatically within the suffocating avenues of the commercial mainstream. One might say that this polarity is a key fact in the framing of Endangered Philosophies. The polarisation between the mainstream and everything else musical is representative of the world at large: the political landscape provides perhaps the most significant and substantial indicator here, with left and right parties both moving further away from centre and claiming almost equal ground in the process, and not just domestically here in England.

Endangered Philosophies is an album for the now, as the press release points out: ‘Within the context of the current political landscape, the title Endangered Philosophies certainly brings to mind pertinent issues of moment, notably the rampant rise of anti-intellectualism, as well as the all too rapid erosion of genuinely progressive values in the face of fearful reactionary forces.’

‘Echoes Of…’ launches the album with a nauseating washing machine churn that grinds along before the thumping rhythm crashes in. the vocals are low in the mix – rare and seemingly contradictory for a hip-hop album, but this is Dälek, an act as inclined toward rock and industrial tropes as conventional hip-hop stylings. It’s a gnarling industrialised trudge, and the whiplash scratching and other overt concessions to genre form are crushed hard against one another into an oppressive and intense slab of sound.

‘Weapons’ is woozy, dark, and suffocating. ‘Few Understand’ is less abrasive, but rides on a dense, pulsating swell of sound underpinned by a plodding beneath that carries a real weight. Sometimes, a live drum sound is all it takes to elevate a hip-hop track above the conventions and into fresh, liberated territories.

With the vocals enveloped in delay and heavy layers of extraneous noise, the lyrics aren’t always entirely prominent, but the sentiment is entirely clear at all times. The shuffling trudge of ‘Son of Immigrants’ is underpinned by an almost subsonic bass. In contrast, there’s something approaching a levity about ‘Beyond the Madness’, the semi-ambient synths drifting cinematically over the insistent rhythm, and the seven-minute ‘A Collective Cancelled Thought’ is monumentally weighty, the bass churning beneath a shifting, turning squall of sound. ‘Battlecries’ is slow and bleak, with lyrics about black males being murdered and the state of culture and society providing the message to the work of the mixed medium.

It’s the contrasts which lie at the heart of the compositions on Endangered Philosophies which make it the album it is, and which render it so compelling.

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