Tuesday, 3 March 2009



Luke Blair masterfully tickled ears and hearts with his last release, (2007's Onandon) displaying artful poise and a real knack for crafting head-nodding wonders. His music drips with the kind of secretive static atmospheres that helped define Burial's sound, yet the style here is overtly more blunted – think the shuffling psychedelia of post-Dilla/Flying Lotus-style hip-hop. That influence is still apparent on this new record yet it's testament to the 22-year old's skills that he carves out a sound of his own, dotted with cinematic flourishes and intelligent use of samples but one still very much dedicated to the beat.

Being on Werk, bass figures heavily in the sub-inflected stylings on show, but its the deft embellishments that really make Foma worth checking out. The first couple of tracks set the mood with Ice Nine bringing a fizzing jazzy groove out from dark drones to meet a simple treated piano motif. The composition here is definitely of the less-is-more school, but interestingly nothing feels underdone. From the simple affecting nature of the opener, Lukid introduces another of his little trademarks on Raise the High Roof Beam which I'm going to refer to as the 'Bubble and Squeak' effect. It's pretty self-explanatory. His love for stumbling, looped progressions is also apparent and it's easy to draw comparisons with the downbeat sunshine of Elvin Estella's Nobody project.

Veto ramps up the funk with organs blazing and shuffling snares pulled straight from the Madlib book of beatmaking. Random stop-start interludes inject some playful spontaneity, but when the mood changes with a minute to go suddenly you're grooving underwater in a glass submarine watching the tropical fish flit by. Standout track Slow Hand Slap starts out all coy and swathed in static. As the beats build over the fuzz-bass, a smooth vocal loop drifts by, lightening the intensity and wrapping you up in cotton wool. Eventually a soothing two-note melody is layered perfectly over the top and the cumulative effect is hypnotically blissful.

It's important to note that listening to this album on headphones is deeply rewarding, all the little details that sucked you in the first time become even more woozy and beguiling. Wandering along in the swaying little bubble that Foma creates is not only highly recommended, its genuinely transporting. As the record continues, Chord takes an never-ending sustain and fuses it into a rolling broken-beat underpinned by some smooth bass textures and clicking rhythms. Foma stands alone being at once minimal in nature and grand in scope, yet retaining the beat-heavy focus that established the Lukid sound. Ultimately, it's a refreshing approach that succeeds far more often than it flounders. Recommended.

No comments: