Fort Romeau- Insides

In so many genres of music, visual art, film, and fashion we can in this day and age observe a rising trend of looking to yesteryear and beyond for inspiration. In many parts of art and creativity, the whole “full circle” idea appears to be real. It is particularly prevalent in electronic music, especially with the current “house revival” we are experiencing, which in my opinion is fast reaching its peak, with little left to really return to using a “throwback” emphasis. Frequently one can read on a blurb of album descriptions pertaining to a return to basics, an echo from the old-school, inspiration from the classics, and so on. Actual attempts to follow through on these aspirations are often non-existent and miss the mark entirely. The little bit of info on Fort Romeau’s “Insides” album when it arrived in the KZUU office was unassuming, with no real attempts to make bold statements. It is, after all, just a small blurb. But if there was ever an album in recent years which in its music used subtlety and a minimalist approach to achieve loud statements, it would be “Insides.” Fort Romeau​’s “Insides” may be the first album in a while which accurately and fully achieves an honest attempt at echoing yesteryear sounds and vibes of house music.

From the get-go, it is abundantly clear that Fort Romeau is attempting to preserve and cherish the synths, drums, progression, bass and waspy vocals typical from the early days of electronic music. The simple progression, the loops, haziness, the frequent switching between warmth and coldness, it’s all there. The album has captures the calm excitement that the entire genre and scene seemed to have. The many, often old-school sounding synths evoke such a wonderfully vintage vibe that makes the very polished and beautiful album simply so special. The minimalistic approach allows for the listener to bind the sounds and vibes together to hear either a warm full-bodied or chilly stripped-down sound and this varies throughout. The album starts small and homey, but by track three, “All I Want” will whip you around to a very strict four on the floor, very dancey house track. The title track “Insides” is a hazy concoction of a variety of cosmic and spacey sounds with an inquisitive nature, which is counteracted later by “Lately” which is forthright very german-esque sounding minimal/tech-house track, with it’s slow and repetitive loops and beats snaking their way along. The cold, steely, frigid nature of this song is oddly the most emotive track on the album, if just in a more subtle and rigid way. It is without doubt my favourite track on the album

What makes this album great is its completeness. For eight tracks it does not drift into more experimental approaches, or other genres. No, “Insides” is a solid eight track album of nothing else but house music with echoes and inspirations from the past. This is not to say that they all sound the same (quite the opposite) but in terms of aim and point of the album, it is crafted so exquisitely well. Indeed, in a period where many electronic releases carry on about a return to basics and vibes from the past, “Insides” stands above the rest. It could be the most important release of the year, if only because of its well-produced result of actually evoking this old-school vibe, but also because Fort Romeau is the first to accurately achieve such a product, entirely that which he aimed to do. This is a true celebration of classic house music, the development of electronic music as a whole, and the moods and emotions a producer can evoke from a piece of music alone.

– Nick


Introducing Gonjasufi…

A Sufi (left) and a Killer

Meet LA rapper-turned-singer Gonjasufi. His debut album “A Sufi and a Killer” is out now on the ever reliable Warp records. It’s a strange brew of Eastern-psychedelica, R&B, blues, soul, lo-fi, and hip-hop all sung with a sort of funky, drugged-out Tom Waits croak. Produced by notable vinyl-dedicated DJ and hair-enthusiast, The Gaslamp Killer.

If this sounds slightly intriguing to you, read my review of the album at the KEXP blog.

You can play Gonjasufi’s “A Sufi and a Killer” from the hip-hop preview rack soon.


Preview Rack: The P of Being P at H – “Higher than the Stars” EP

Multiple releases in the same calendar year is the new thing. Last year, Los Campesinos! had two killer LPs in a span of like 7 months. This year, Bibio dropped Vignetting the Compost and Ambivalence Avenue four months apart. Now 8 months later, NY’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart follow up their fuckin’ fantastic debut album with a quick, five-song EP, Higher than the Stars. The title track is an infectious bit of nostalgia, channeling The Cure musically and Ride vocally. “103”‘s sweet aesthetic completely belies the biting lyrics, directed towards a depressed, death-obsessed, misguided teenager. Under swirling layers of distortion, Kip Berman sings “You can make marks with a razor / choke out on the bed / but do you feel a sense of failure / when you just can’t end up dead?”

The POBPAH are the undisputed indie pop champions of the world right now. Maybe only Camera Obscura come close.


preview rack: kurt vile “childish prodigy”

i will now tell you a few things about kurt vile. first, yes that is his birth name. second, his vocals (and appropriately, his looks) sound like a hybrid of bob seger and bob dylan. lastly, and most importantly, his music sounds like lo-fi psychedelic folk-rock lost in the 1970s. so know you what you’re in for.

in the station’s preview rack you will find his new LP titled childish prodigy. it was released on october 6th by matador records. this is kurt vile’s first “proper” studio produced LP and according to him its the album he’s been saving for years, waiting for the right label to release it. he has released two bedroom recorded collections of tunes, 2008’s constant hitmaker (no irony in that title) and god is saying this to you… released earlier this year on possible “label of the year” woodsist.

so about the new LP childish prodigy: it is not the masterpiece this guy is capable of, but it is definitely good. while it certainly features a robust production touch and offers more consistency than vile’s first two jaunts, i can’t say there is anything on “childish prodigy” as immediately gratifying as the best songs on his previous works. tunes like “freeway”, “slow talkers”, and “space forklift” on constant hitmaker ooze with talent and vision.  “my sympathy” and “my best friends (don’t even pass this way)” on god is saying this to you… will pluck your heart strings. these songs are vile’s most charming, creative tunes. that is not to say there are not some brilliant tunes on the new one, they just are not as spontaneous and prodigious (ironically).

so childish prodigy opens with “hunchback”, a tune that sounds like a tom petty b-side that got a little too “weird”. “freak train” is a bona-fide folk-rock jam showcasing his band’s ability (the terrifically named “violators”) to tear it up. “blackberry song” is a fingerpickin’ gem with gorgeous twin guitar lines. it is absolutely mesmerizing. so is “heart attack”, another folk-y ballad that could be called “dylan-esque” if it showed any kind of restraint. instead vile gets dramatic and it is exciting. “dead alive” might be my favorite track just because of the terrific opening line “you tellin’ me a good man is hard to find/but what are ya blind?” he continues to get more and more ridiculous with his lyrics until he peaks with the line, “better take a breather ’till you stop sweatin’ and knit me a sweater”. that is the kind of spontaneity that makes vile a unique talent. final verdict: play this album on your show.

here is a fairly accurate pitchfork review of childish prodigy.

here is “freak train” performed at SXSW