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Fuewa – Birth Place EP

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Label: Sonic RouterScore: 7.5/10

The fifth release for blog-cum label ‘Sonic Router’, comes in the form of the woozy, beat orientated, slo-mo house EP, “Birth Place” by UK South Coast artist, Fuewa (aka Microburst).

Fuewa, real name Chris Sallows appears to view his music through a crusty, stained and dirty window. Coherent atmospheric textures and ideas smear and morph together, giving the tracks and the EP as a whole, a cogent and biological feel.  Sounds and ideas randomly swim up from the depths of his muddy puddles of aural experimentation, poking their heads briefly above the surface before quickly receding back into the murky sonic depths he has created, to be replaced by fuzzy, ambient textures, muffled, music concrete-esq found sounds and warm, organic melodies.

 Kicking off with the sprawling behemoth that is ‘Bhok’, the EP touches base with some of the finest experimental music and techniques around at the moment. From the pumping, side-chained, Fly-Lo influence on ‘La Void’, the subdued slo-mo, 4×4 vibes on ‘Bhok’ and ‘Outa Banks’ through to the lo-fi hip hop influence on ‘Undress Invert’ and even Merzbow inspired noise and drone manipulations on closer ‘Time Paint’, the EP dips and dives, playing with its influences and its audience like a cat does with a ball of yarn. The whole thing is awash with submerged alien transmissions, hidden menace and quasi-organic sound sources that at points actually seem to be alive. Sitting below  these juicy, confrontational memes, firmly anchoring the sonic chaos and grounding it in reality resides the powerful yet playful percussive engine room that is seemingly powered by either a colony of electronic worker ants or by the demented genius of Dr Frankenstein himself -depending on which track you are listening too.

A pervasive gritty sadness and melancholy shrouds the EP allowing moving, poignant and nostalgic moments to bubble up to the surface at different points throughout the EP’s running time; be that via the weighty side-chained vocal utterances on ‘Bhok’, the wistful, transcendent arpeggios on ‘Time Paint’, the heavily saturated string motif that reveals itself on ‘Undress Invert’ or even the sooty, pseudo-organic industrial flavours that for some reason remind me of the death scene at the end of ‘Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade’ (you know – when the bad guy melts away into nothing when he drinks from the wrong Holy Grail) on ‘La Void.’

With the clean, sterile, pristine deep house fad seemingly coming to an end at the moment, Sallow’s Birth Place EP comes at a very apt time. The sounds employed throughout are experimental and dark in nature, and are, resultantly, the complete antithesis of the music that has dominated the UK dance music scene for the last 18 months or so. And although darkness and heavy textures are nothing new, the combinations employed here, when pooled together with the slow, mashed up, house inspired beats become almost religious in nature. The tunes spit in the face of traditional DJ arrangements and song structure, in turn allowing sounds and ideas to run their natural course rather than being forced and coerced into doing things that do not serve the living, breathing nature of the tracks presented, in the process creating a wholly exciting, unpredictable ride that is all the better for its random strangeness.

It is a cogent, fully formed piece of work that takes its cues from the last 10 years of underground dance music, in all its forms, bastardising and re-shaping them to create something that is at the same time more than the sum of its parts whilst at the same time proffering an aggressive two fingered salute to the sterile, cookie cutter template sounds so prevalent today.

All in all the whole thing is beautifully crafted and put together leaving the listener (well this one at least)with the feeling that they have perhaps just undergone a full on outer body experience. It’s a great experimental electronica release that is sure to stand up to repeat scrutiny – and kudos for putting it out on cassette too!

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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