Phaeleh
Fallen Light


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
November 8th, 2010 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sweeping, lush future garage that falls just inches short of the quality Phaeleh is so clearly capable of.

So close to classic status that classic can tell how long it's been since Fallen Light shaved.

The only thing holding this album back is a slight identity crisis - it feels like Fallen Light doesn't really know whether it wants to be an album for the clubs or an album for the crash afterwards. Sonically, it's right in the middle of the great British tradition of post-club music - from Massive to Burial - and yet it plays like the people it's intended for are DJs, not a wider listening audience. Each track is structured to allow it to be mixed into another, with each element coming into view one by one and then boiling down again. On many tracks that's not really a problem for most of us, but when it makes "Delusions" seven minutes long, or "Losing You" and "Mantra" six, it means the whole thing starts to drag a little bit.

That's a real shame, because musically, this is fantastic - easily the best future garage release I've heard all year, and a real rival to big hitters like Burial, Joy Orbison, and FaltyDL (in fact, it's so much better than Joy Orbison that his place on that list looks a little silly). Just listen to the blissed-out majesty of the title track - that's a song-of-the-year contender, and one that crucially doesn't sound like the work of any other producer, too. "Breathe in Air", which features the vocals of Soundmouse (as does "Afterglow"), isn't far off that standard. Individually, each of these tracks (with the possible exception of the excursions into traditional dub in the album's mid-section) would stand out on a mixtape amongst other artists, and if you're a DJ, that's really all you can ask for.

And yet, as a home listener, it can feel like the album isn't quite doing enough to keep you interested. It cries out for just one thing - one perfectly judged dynamic shift, one earth-shattering bassline, one unforgettable melody, one classic dance rhythm, one heart-wrenching vocal - to drive the whole thing onto the next level. If "Fallen Light" was anywhere else on the album, that may well have been enough, but as a suffix to the other 12 songs it can't affect what happens before it in any meaningful way. And that is a real shame, because it just needs that little something extra to push it from 'great' to 'special', and as tantalisingly close as that is, it doesn't come.

But there is an implicit, back-handed compliment hidden in all of this; the only reason you'd ever complain about an album not being a classic is because it's so agonisingly close that you can barely believe it doesn't get there. And Fallen Light is agonisingly, heartbreakingly close - it really is a fantastic album, but it's one that leaves you wondering about how much better it could be. Phaeleh definitely sounds like an artist on the up, though, and it would not be a surprise at all if his next album was an improvement on this. If and when that happens, we'll have to start questioning Burial's current status as the undisputed king of this subgenre.



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user ratings (77)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2010


31340 Comments


Nice review as usual Butler, but I obviously preferred this much more than you. In fact, its top5 for me right now

Iai
Emeritus
November 8th 2010


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's probably top 5 of the year for me too, I'd be shocked if it didn't make the top 10 anyway. This is about as close to a 4 as a 3.5 could ever get.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2010


31340 Comments


You mention that the album seems unsure of where it should be played - club or afterwards etc. I find that it at times its lively enough that it works as a night time scene, but its downbeat enough for those final dawn listens. Easily comfortable in both surroundings

Adash
November 8th 2010


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

getting this then

crank
November 8th 2010


332 Comments


Sounds right up my street , will get

Enotron
November 8th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

awesome can't wait to check out

2muchket!
November 9th 2010


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

like within the emptiness slightly better, but this is still amazing

might creep into my top 5 dubstep releases for this year with repeated listens, gunna be hard to beat clubroot, james blake, pariah, ital tek and starkey though

Yotimi
November 9th 2010


6521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This didn't quite hit me like I thought it would. Great production but not a whole lot stood out to me.

sniper
November 11th 2010


19075 Comments


This did very little for me on my first listen. I might try again.

Calculate
November 12th 2010


1135 Comments


Where can I find this?

Bitchfork
November 13th 2010


7584 Comments


Takin Dev's side

jpattison
November 13th 2010


125 Comments


I like this album, but I highly prefer his first LP, It seems more full to me

jpattison
November 13th 2010


125 Comments


nevermind, It's on par. I have it a third spin. It's growing on me a lot

Imperial
November 14th 2010


1733 Comments


Loving this right now, each song puts me into such a dark mood.

Inveigh
November 16th 2010


25025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

review hits on my main (and maybe only) issue with this album -- it tends to drag in spots. at least when I'm listening to it by myself.

still, it's really good stuff.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2010


31340 Comments


I don't have that problem at all - even though I could see why others might feel that way. I guess it depends on how you listen to it; while the whole album works so well as background/chill music, only a handful of the tracks can cross over to a more party like environment

Inveigh
November 16th 2010


25025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, I was listening to it more in the mode of headphones with nothing else really going on -- I really dug it but there were a few moments where I just kind of wanted it to move on to the next idea.

Haven't quite decided on a rating yet, but I'm teetering between a 3.5 and a 4. It's definitely on par with some of my other favorite non-FlyLo electronica albums this year (sorry sorry, I lump them all together man, it's offensive I know) with How to Dress Well, Deceptikon and Hudson Mohawke.

What else am I missing?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2010


31340 Comments


Teebs, Gold Panda, Pariah, TOKiMONSTA, Lorn, James Blake, Guido, Gonjasufi, are all worth your time. There's more I could rec but I think you'll like these

Inveigh
November 16th 2010


25025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

word thanks man. I've actually got James Blake and Gonjasufi on my d/l list, but I'll add the rest of those. I'm running out of time!

2muchket!
November 17th 2010


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Starkey as well you might like.



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