Life's hard, I can tell. Money is tight. Tinned spaghetti is starting to look good. You're selling your cat's kittens on eBay. You can keep flipping your underwear inside-out and back again for only so long. The pressure is telling. You need something cool and soothing to mop your fevered brow. Look no further than the free Grey-Purple EP by Fiji (the musician, not the idyllic South Pacific nation) and its eight tracks of ambient-tinged trip-hop.
But before you gleefully throw away your "Arse-crack available for bicycle stand" sign, please note the following. In an attempt to make the claps pop and the kicks thump, Fiji, who comes straight outta Orenberg, has overdone it slightly. Consequently, follow Uncle CTW's advice and adjust your media player's preset to "Agnostic" or something equally neutral that will stop your car's sub-woofers from blowing its doors across the street.
Today's recommended track is Hour of Glances and Kisses (feat. Kammerton). The plucked guitar and sultry, breathy female vocal that start the track are subject to a familiar production trick, apeing a lo-fi AM broadcast by cutting the low & high frequencies and keeping the stereo stream narrow. Fiji then simultaneously hits the listener with the full audio spectrum and widens the sonic field to a warm, chorus-y, your-ears-are-bathing-in-chocolate scrumptiousness. It never fails to work, both aurally and emotionally. The track then indulges in some very slow synth arpeggios that will remind those with receding hairlines of Apollo 440, and a raucous, rising synth tone that eventually dissipates under the weight of the fluffy pads and vocals.
But guess what? You can't listen to the whole track unless you download the entire album.
(IDIOTIC EDIT: Hour of Glances and Kisses is available from Fiji's own Soundcloud profile. Thankyou to @Lukelibrarian for the help. He's a lot better than Jacasta Nu. Now, listen to Jedi's Fiji's deft handling of filtered vocals:
END OF IDIOTIC EDIT)
Granted, there is a sampler for the EP, and it's enlightening to read the comments on the Soundcloud player, but I'm always surprised at the ingenious tactics that otherwise excellent netlabels (such as the fantastic and thoroughly recommended Siberian/Muscovite Electronica) will adopt to prevent listeners from hearing their music as easily as possible. There is no need for Tal-like complexity or Petrosianesque obfuscation.
Мой русский вентиляторы теперь, глядя на что последнее предложение, и думал: мы желаем вам, как пишет Филидор играли в шахматы, вы идиот. И наш лидер борется тигров в то время как твой имеет лицо, как дно ребенка.
Anyway, here's the sampler - I think you'll enjoy it. Props to the comment, "Veryyyy beauty!"
If you've simply pressed "Play" and slumped back onto your crisp-infested and beer-stained sofa, the first thing you'll hear (after a Slav Barry White intoning, "Elyectrrronicah") is Copy Paste Feelings, a pleasant blend of filter-swept doo-wop vocals and easy-paced trip-hop. The same formula is used for much of Grey-Purple, the album, and Grey-Purple (feat. Long Arm), the title track of said album, so expect to hear plenty of white noise and dollops of piano, rhodes piano, subtle pads, drones and the occasional trip-hop stutter.
The third track, Faked Imaginary Freedom, is slightly more funky. The claps are rather intrusive but the gorgeous sampled/chopped pads make up for them. Fiji beds the rhythms in a hypnotic swathe of synths and pianos; when the beats disappear, as in the latter stages of the trumpet-flecked Ocean In My Head, one feels as though the music is even better for it.
Frustratingly, the pseudo-DJ-Shadow On 17th Floor has drool-worthy sustained piano chords, but would be much better without the half-hearted breakbeat-and-clap accompaniment.
Next up is Smiles Before Bedtime (smiles during bedtime are better), which essays a lovely descending piano line in tandem with some crunchy white noise and marvellously delicate synth chirrups. Again, not too sure about the kick and clap - but bear in mind that I listen to all my music on an iTincan - so adjust to taste.
Night of White Flies - not the most enticing of titles - contains a snippet of a classical recording that I trust is old enough to be out of copyright. Mind you, Fiji may have recorded it himself and aged it in the studio. Music software can do almost anything nowadays, bar curing Country & Western. You'll like it if you like crunchiness, guitars, scratches, violin solos and Mom-and-Pop vocals.
Grey-Purple is a rare thing in the world of electronica/trip-hop; it's so warm and fluffy that it encourages one to cuddle the nearest thing to the listener, whether that be a spouse, teddy bear or the biscuit barrel. Personally, I think it's just a sneaky Russian trick to save on heating bills.
If you like the album, please drop a "thank you" email in Electronica or Fiji's inbox and/or empty your glass and throw it in your fireplace.
Fiji - Grey-Purple EP (link to sampler & zipped album)
Electronica netlabel (Excellent in so many ways. Trawl their back catalogue and enjoy.)