John Talabot – fIN (2012)


The debut album of  rising Young Turks musician John Talabot with fIN.

Currently at Rate Your Music’s No. 1 spot for Top Albums of 2012 [edit: now at #10 as of 28/3), the sexy album art and the placement of it into the “Balearic Beat” genre piqued my interest.  Balearic Beat? Minimal Techno? Micro House? Consider me there! On first glance it seemed like it would be right up my alley, and the mountains of praise lavished upon this convinced me to give it a try. What followed was, well, quite a listening experience.

Opener “Depak Ine” is stellar; rich jungle samples form a thick textural base that Talabot works his magic over; dark and brooding yet offering a surprising warmth is the story of this album, with groovy minimal techno melodies and bassy, deep house kicks. It’s thick, lavish and über sexy listening and prepares us for the oncoming experimentality.

“Destiny”, with its dub overtones, settles us in for the long run by establishing an amazing groove. Talabot’s house and club influences are clear; this is something that feels like it was made with the dancefloor in mind, blending sultry vocals with a rich bassline. “El Oeste” and “Oro y Sangre” chase it up with shuffling synths, tribal drum undercurrents and distorted, distant screams, ones we cannot distinguish between revelry or fear.

Despite a very weak middle,  things get distinctly sunnier and bouncier with something of a 90’s throwback in “When The Past Was Present” with its floaty vocals and strongly pulsing synth beats, and the distinctly ambient “H.O.R.S.E”, which happens to be my personal favourite with its writhing synth backing and soft vocal coos.

It’s an album that, on the surface, appears to promise a happy, balearic listening experience but instead delivers something inherently darker, more shadowy. Talabot manages to capture the twilight hour of some sunny, exotic country, that brief period where the night is on the verge of beginning just as the clubs begin their nightly routine in the city while the insect populace also starts its orchestra in the more rural areas. It’s stunningly well done for the most part and displays some really well produced deep house; fat yet downtempo and tightly controlled basslines married against complex tropical textures make this a pretty rich and warm experience suitable for both personal listening as well as on the dancefloor.

Having come back to this long after my initial listens it has grown on me, but I’m still hesitant. Good, but doesn’t quite hit the spot: