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Friday, 4 November 2011

SubVersion Stop 145: Fanu - Serendipity (Lightless)

The art of serendipity: stumbling upon good things by accident - immensely gratifying to a modern liver. But like chocolate without weight gain, or a holiday with no time constraints, it's equally worrying when you indulge too often. Janne Hatula, the man behind the Fanu indoctrination, his popularity edging envelopes since 2003, "drumfunk" later shifting from buzzword to attention buzz-off, has no qualm, foraging samples across cultures, waxing them with more drum fills than The Winstons could shake a stick at.

With just heavy beats and bass to unite the album narrative, it's possible "Serendipity" could be a bland dish in the modern age, uber-production sphere. Janne's inspirations include Photek, and I'd agree that he makes snoresome beats today. Yet a subjective flaw of "Serendipity" is it's laborious 79 minute duration. However, Fanu counters this criticism with a variegated track flow, and merging into trancier melodic territory than his past albums. Ultimately it's a collection of tracks, whereby he's mentioned online processing it after a skateboarding injury allowed him the mental space to work proper.

Where once there was Twin Peaks meta data, in replacement comes crackling firework synth samples to excite grey matter. As well as the trademark vocal layers, here also spoken in Finnish - he thought English only sounded cool prior to this - the move is something that breathes oxygen into the breakbeat Jungle glaze by it's lack of synonymity. Meanwhile Greenleaf's scattergun verses on "Shatner Rap" probe from Stateside, like "a doc tor" overlooking the alt. hip hop answering machine, dropping slick off-kilter tendencies against rump-shaking drumwork to bridge the middle of the record with fairly unique style.

"Fairly" - a question "is Fanu repeating himself?" - by originality dissipating in favour of a signature touchstone (half-time breaks, film noir and rough-textured production) comes under conjecture with every artist that establishes oneself, but I can interpret from "Serendipity" that the spark I cherished from those early leftfield label releases isn't lost. The common energetic bond remains in colouring lower frequencies over the breakbeat, moreover a historical frequency pitch to the Old School, and a venture into further lower tempos, such as Dubstep territory, subsequently also veering towards the liveliness of his collaboration with experimentalist stalwart Bill Laswell on 2008's "Lodge".

If there's a fanfare to be had in "Serendipity", it's the joyous Hotpants machine-gun-and-trailblazer-atmos splatter of "I Can't Sleep", dropping an ounce of fatness and all the better for it contextually, while earlier on the dramatic breakbeat butchery of "Jupiter" lodges the Amen into a Pong Atari module, claustrophobic to the extreme but exalted by affinity with split personality edit juxtapositions. Janne's not afraid to show off his breaks collection, nevertheless he keeps things raw and the result is an organic interlocking minus the torpor. "Serendipity", fundamentally, continues the quality level of the Fanu name, sacrificing the This Mortal Coil epicness of hallmark "Siren Song" but coming off mature as a path on the Finnish Ronin's journey. Whether you stumble on this because of intention or fate remains up to spiritual guidance, but there's worth in the gale, whether or not you set sail for it.

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