Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Foals - Tapes

Of course it was so predictable that one day the internet would bastardise the phenomenon of tape making. The ‘oh so twee’ gesture of every teenager since forever has been turned into an opportunity for indie bands to show off a couple of niche cuts from their ipod. K7! have granted this honour to Foals, or more specifically, keyboardist Edwin Congreave. The former poster boys of math rock showcase a taste in music that not many fans would necessarily have gleaned from their releases (unless you paid particular attention to some of the percussion on ‘Total Life Forever’), with most of this tape sounding like something you’d find playing in a seedy corner of Shangri-La at Glastonbury.

“Blue-wave” musician Nicolas Jaar opens ‘Tapes’ with his ‘Variations’ which proclaims that ‘most consumers gave up on cassette tapes years ago’, the irony of course being that this tape is hardly re-enforcing their importance, considering its still mainly on release as a download. However ‘Variations’ is one of the highlights, kicking off a triumvirate of the best tracks on the mix. The slowed down beats under sporadic voices extolling the virtues of tapes segues seamlessly into the Bibio remix of ‘Ted’ by Clark. Looped minimalist guitar patterns provide echoes of Steve Reich or Philip Glass before we descend into the more upbeat ‘Tropical Hands’ of Dorian Concept, full of video game synths and funk to the max.

There are points where the songs begin to jar as everything becomes bogged down and submerged in psychedelia. ‘Mushrooms’ is such a point, as Marshall Jefferson takes the listener on a trip which isn’t much fun if you’re not actually tripping. The Blood Orange cut is a rare disappointment from Dev, his voice obscured by bleeps and bloops and its let down by a seeming lack of structure. However the ‘Tapes’ finish triumphantly with ‘Yes God is Real’ by The Comforters, a classic gospel song reminiscent of some Otis Redding.

There are going to be people trawling through every track on this mix, desperately looking for a sniff of a possible new Foals direction. But it’s definitely not clear cut. We could possibly be looking at a release full of Afrobeats funk and psychedelic electro, but on the other hand the tape could bear no resemblance to the music Foals are making. ‘Tapes’ has reminded us that Foals are still out there, and more than whetted our appetite for something original from the band. But at the end of the day, this is just a bunch of songs put together by people who you don’t know. And while it’s nice to discover new titbits from artists you hadn’t previously heard of, it turns out mixtapes just aren’t as fun if you can’t hear the reasons behind them.


Jessy Parker Humphreys

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