Anxiety-racked urban soundscapes from deep London undergrounds.
Fbcfabric & Reindeer is a collaborative outfit that emerged in 2005 with the irrepressible It's Not Who You Know, It's Whom You Know. Combining trip-hop and hip-hop vocals to expansive post-rock and garage rhythms, their genre-defying collection was essential listening. Disappearing again until 2013, they returned with a single that continues in the tradition of their earlier sound, as well as providing a remastered, redesigned, expanded edition of their début release. Eighty minutes long and spanning 19 tracks, it's a monolithic monument to post-modern city life; crawling with field recordings of strange machinations and mass transit networks, and disconnected string and brass segues between the oppressively dark lyrical content of the album's major compositions.
While the entire release requires a listen through from beginning to end, there are two suites of sounds which particularly catch the eye. The first of these is a five-track flush near the start of the release: Down The Sides, Passenger, Rub The Calm One, Wallet Keys Hopes & Dreams, and I Might As Well Be Glad. All these clock in at around three minutes each, and provide a projection-slide feeling with their quick changeovers. The sound here is almost upbeat, in places; or, at least, positively resigned. In contrast, the second suite of songs: The Only Dance I Can Do, Bell Rings Dog Salivates, Shake The Hand Of An Unsuspecting Victim, and Please Call Stella close the album with an increasingly dark and paranoid aesthetic that builds to a twin crescendo with the vocal nightmare scenario of An Unspecting Victim before collapsing into an apocalyptic instrumental coda with Please Call Stella; these two tracks in particular featuring a soundscape more appropriate to the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Altar Of Plagues than anything remotely attached to the 'alternative hip-hop' genre that the duo identify themselves with.
As someone who doesn't usually care for rapping or hip-hop in general, this is a ground-breaking release for me, and one of my most-listened since I first discovered it over half a decade ago. Even if the first few tracks don't capture your attention, listen through to the two previously-mentioned suites and the other impressive pieces in between - or, if you can't handle the vocals at all, check out the Instrumental
version of the album.
To listen to their music, simply click on the album covers to be taken to their respective pages. Additionally, If you've any recommendations based on this artist, or wish to promote some music that you yourself enjoy, please do so in the comments. Maybe I'll end up enjoying something enough to feature it myself.