“The decade of the Fresh Prince and Microsoft is being mined mercilessly for inspiration everywhere you turn these days, and not just in electronic music either, so obviously it’s going to be quite a challenge to stand out from the pack.” – Ian Maleney wants some emotional involvement from Faws.
Faws is the nom-de-plume of an anonymous Dublin producer working with downbeat, sample-heavy two-step. When the mysterioso’s first EP landed in bloggers’ inboxes last December, several influences were worn prominently on the sleeve. Mount Kimbie was the first name to jump to mind and the association was hard to escape as the songs on show displayed little in the way of distinct personality. All the right garage shapes and London colours, but nothing no one hadn’t heard before.
It was a first release though, so some slack needed to be cut. Now the still-shrouded-in-secrecy (no mean feat considering how small Dublin is…) producer is back with a second EP, Blue Notes. It is, as the title would lead you to expect, a melancholy affair. Vinyl crackles are ever-present and the sad samples of Rhodes keyboard hint at trip-hop. Indeed, that oft-maligned product of the 90s casts a long shadow over these five songs. The flashes of classic R’n’B, as well as the more familiar garage-style beats and vocal cuts, further ground everything in the decade before last.
The decade of the Fresh Prince and Microsoft is being mined mercilessly for inspiration everywhere you turn these days, and not just in electronic music either, so obviously it’s going to be quite a challenge to stand out from the pack. Unfortunately, Blue Notes falls down in similar ways to its predecessor in this regard. While the sound is certainly accomplished and it ticks all the usual boxes, it is still lacking that killer edge, that spark of personality. It’s all very slick and safe, which is made more depressing by the producer’s clear ability with his tools. You’ll be hard pressed to find a risk taken on any of these five tracks, rather they sink into the background as mood music, all blue and grey tones with little depth. In the end, the music hints at an aesthetic idea of sadness but backs away from any real expression of feeling it.