Monday, 17 September 2012

Review: John Talabot – fIN

You’re a smart person, idealised imaginary reader. You don’t need me to explain everything for me. For example, you already know that you can enjoy a record a whole lot more or less depending on when and where you hear it, and sometimes records becoming intrinsically attached to certain memories and moments in life. I personally think that all my favourite albums have a definitive listen I associate with them. It’s one thing to listen to an album on your computer in your bedroom, but the ones that etch themselves into your soul are the ones you take outside to accompany with you. Often, these definitive listens happen almost by accident – there is nothing obviously special about the time or place you decide to put the album on, but once it begins playing there becomes a synergy between music and moment. And, of course, the same happens to particular songs as well.

But you already knew that, didn’t you reader? You’re currently fidgeting in boredom and wondering what my point is, perhaps already tabbing over to Facebook or Twitter to post something to the effect of: “Reading the new IANAMJ review… is it just me or this site seriously gone downhill? #JumpedTheShark”. Well, you should have been more patient, dear reader, because then I wouldn’t have had to type out this pointless paragraph and you would have already read the point. Silly reader.

The point is that I’m currently sat on a deserted train hurtling through the midlands of England on the way to London. I’ve got a week off work, a cold drink in hand and John Talabot’s album soundtracking the sunny countryside rolling past the window. Short of leaving the country and locating some beach or balcony overlooking the kind of vivid Mediterranean vista this album paints in your mind, I’m not sure there could be a better context for a first listen. If I were taking my first listen during the depths of a nuclear winter while holding the charred corpse of my dog in my hand, swearing vengeance as acrid tears burn down my cheeks, I probably wouldn’t be enjoying fIn quite so much. Which is just as well for John Talabot, because let’s face it – he needs the positive press of a IANAMJ review if he’s going to sell any records, right?

If you don’t know who John Talabot is by now, you’re probably just as well looking him up on Google, because the results will be a damn sight more informative than anything I’m going to write in such a whimsical, carefree mood. And my 15 minutes of free train wi-fi have expired and I’m damned if I’m paying for Internet access just to do some research and give my writing a veneer of factual basis or careful research. What do you think I am, a music journalist or something?

Anyway, as Google will have just informed you, John Talabot has become something of an instant hero in dance music in the last three or four years, specialising in a brand of gloriously sunny chilled Balearic house that absolutely everyone seems to like. fIN is his debut album, and manages that pleasing trick of simultaneously sounding bang up to date and totally timeless. The shimmering, Animal Collective-y vocals on Ekhi will tick all the right Pitchfork boxes, and the future garage vocal manipulations of closer So Will Be Now have probably already inspired some ludicrous spurt of purple prose from Resident Advisor. The majority of the other tracks are instrumentals, but they blend production techniques from slow-mo nu-disco and deep house with the occasional muted acid pulse or retro keyboard patch that comes straight out of the Ibizan house records that DJ Alfredo was playing back in the ‘80s. My favourite track, When The Past Was Present, even throws in some trancey keyboard riffage, which is always a good way to make me go weak at the knees.

It’s difficult for me to analyse exactly how or why these tracks are so good, because I don’t mix house or listen to it too often, and as such I’ve never spent much time deconstructing the methodology of the genre. And really, why should I bother? This is probably one of the most hyped dance music releases of the year, and I doubt many of you will need me to bring it to your attention. All I can say is that right here, on this sun-kissed evening train ride that will prefigure a week of R&R in one of the most exciting cities in the world, fIN sounds absolutely perfect. Just don’t bust it out when that nuclear winter sets in.

 Genre: Balearic house
 Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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