I think I've got most of FB's stuff now. I first got
hooked when I did a spot listen of 'Power Clown' in Soundclash and then I
had to go and buy everything before and since.
Well, FB are still carving their own niche in a parallel universe where Boz Scaggs grew up with a sampler. Track 1, 'Bumblehaun', starts with some Bontempi chords, flows on with acoustic guitar and what sounds like an old Fairlight vocal sample and some Horace Wimp vocals before the beat kicks in. And what a beat - I can only describe it as pure, bottled summer. A big, thwacky snare, clunking hats, bubbling bass and chiming acoustic chords. Hey, and I've not even told you about the mandolin. This track just gave me a huge grin and made me feel young, stupid and happy again. It reminded me of being 14, getting pissed and smoking cigars. It may be too cheesy for some of you serious types out there but if you're still an immature twat like me you'll probably love this.
'Motown Coppers' is more of a stompalong, handclaps urging you to dance badly and not give a shit. It reminds me a little bit of Yello in its up-tempo danceyness but it's a lot flumpier.
'Spill The Beans' veers into almost Moby territory with its sampled old bloke (Washington Phillips?) vocal hook. But when the real vocal comes in, it makes it sound more like Dark Side Of The Moon than Play. Which is a compliment, in my book.
I remember saying in my review of 'Power Clown' how I was startled at the 4AD guitarisms that pop up and fuck me if FB haven't gone the whole hog and sampled Dead Can Dance on track 4, 'DNA..' Not being a DCD fan, I don't know the original song ('The Snake And The Moon') but FB's track isn't a jarring shoehorning. If anything, the track sounds a bit like a funky This Mortal Coil, er, if you can imagine that. Some nice zingy phased synth pootling at the end, too.
'We Build Arks' comes in with a John Foxxy bass groan, some half-arsed whistling and then the vocal, which is from Steve Edwards again. Overall, it sounds a bit like a chilled, male-vocal version of something that might have come off 'Do You Like My Tight Sweater?.' Nice Morlocks reference.
'It's A Knockout' sounds like... ummm... 'It's A Knockout.' Well, okay, it doesn't really, it's more Herb Alpert than that, in a Casino Royale way. It chigs and chugs along happily and I can *almost* sing 'Guantanamera' along to it. Not in tune, mind. Nice bit of flute in there.
Now, 'Monk's Utterance' is a little teaser. It eases you in with some Airy synth chords and just when you think it's going to be a laid-back shooming ballad, the jumpity beat hops in. And I think it's a trombone doing some nice riffing (man) which reminded me a bit of Landscape. You can pick what tempo you take this song in at, not in a jungle way but more chilled choosiness. I'm *sure* there's also a sample of that old '60s song about kites in there, that mad Simon Dupree number. Class!
Track 8, 'Percival Quintaine' is more mad breakbeaty than the preceding tracks. It's not as densely layered as Xploding Plastix but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And it's quite guitar heavy although not heavy guitar. This is the track you can most do insane ravey davey dancing to, provided you don't mind bleeping techno being replaced by vibrato-ed guitars. Watch for the chilling-out at the end...catches you completely off-guard if you're mid-gurn.
'Nightfall' is another song, this time the bluesy vocals float over an almost Depeche Mode backing of squelching synths and bokky drums. The slidey bits also sound very Tim Simenon. But there's a lot more space than DM and the track isn't trying to be electropop, it's just the beat is a lot clunkier than most FB stuff. Also, the vocals are far too jazzy to fit in with most synthpop. Ummm... if you leave out Yazoo...
I've listened to this album twice since I bought it and each time has been quite late at night. The strange thing is that it feels as if the tracks guide you through a day. The first track is definitely morning, happy, energetic and halloooo to the day. 'Nightfall' speaks for itself and track 10, 'Mother Nature's Spies' is a four a.m. kind of track. It's a fractured, lolloping track hung around a warm acoustic bass and jazzy drums but with mad bits thrown in. There's a bit of Oumou Sangare (credited) and a bit from the Bar Kays' 'Shake Your Rump To The Funk' (uncredited, you naughty pups!). There's also some mad Stephane Grappelli in there. Makes you feel like you've been up too long and you've started speaking in tongues, in a good way of course.
Then comes the album closer, 'The Green Green Grass of Homegrown' which is sung almost Steve Earle-y by Steve Edwards. Yep, like Alan Jackson predicted, FB have gone country. Look at them boots! No drums, just guitars, harmonica and a keening country vocal + harmonies. I love this track but then I love country music. I don't know how this track will go down in more broadly dancey arenas. There's plenty of dance kids I've met who treat country with either honest derision or student kitsch. I dunno what they'd make of this track. But it's a lovely closer to another beautiful Fila Brazillia album.
Buy this album if you've ever felt like you wanted to dance but were afraid that you might look stupid. Fila Brazillia understand that fear of joy completely and wish to banish it by sniffing your crotch, like true friends do. Put this album on in your sitting room, ignore your bloke/mrs and jump around like Everlast. Don't buy this album if you like your genres very clearly demarcated and find Tresor comps to be a bit too varied in style.
love and kisses, Jyoti