Review Summary: Unashamedly, and almost unassumingly, amazing - a breathless wonder
It’s somewhat amusing and even a little ironic that John Talabot’s much-heralded debut LP should begin in the fashion that it does: the sounds of a jungle teeming with life in the midst of full spectacle, animals (including a chorus of croaking frogs that reappear as a kind of reinforced selling point later in the opening track) desperately trying to rid themselves of the pervasive heat. As an ode to his last EP, the appropriately titled Families
it’s a fitting sendoff that works as a tribute to his, at the time, biggest success. But more than that, it’s incredibly telling of the album that it sets up, a piece of work set deep in the murky humidity of his home town of Barcelona. f
IN is an album stepped in sweat and moisture, sun-stained melodies that shimmer as fluidly as the melting point of the horizon, drums thick and dense, the weight of their pendulum arc cutting through the sweltering mugginess felt with every crisp hit.
As a former provocateur of the kind of techno that swept Spain by storm at the turn of the century, the abrupt change from the driven uptempo smacks of mechanical production to the warmer and deliberately sensual overtones that he has now become the sole bearer of makes f
IN even more the underdog success story than it already is. Here everything is enthusiastically organic, patiently applied over the rigid and cold backdrop, replacing the barren heart with the warm glow of oversaturation. Like an overdeveloped photo, everything is deliberately smudgy and blurry; synthesizers are woozy and drunken extensions of his deep house meets-candy-coated pop apparatus. Tempos are kept to a complacent level, hypnotizing in their almost lazy cycle, products of the ever-burning sun they operate around. Indebted as they are to the house scene of pre-pillage Ibiza, so too are they to the groove-laden and electronic driven music of disco. You’re not going to hear KC and the Sunshine Band or Boney M with any kind of distinction here, but they’re in there, at least the idea
of them anyway, stretched beyond oblivion.
At times his affinity for the past ends up on full display; such is the case with ‘When the Past Was Present’. As the title suggests, Talabot isn’t afraid to genre hop or show where his heart lies, but yet a retro piece it is not; there is no timeline for f
IN, it seems to exist solely in its own continuum, where it beckons instead of reaching out, allowing everything else to gravitate towards it instead. As such, ‘When the Past Was Present’ is a faint dream, a swath of sheer fabric escaping an insistent reach; the kind of unashamedly glorious floor filler that sits above the dripping neon of the square-lit dancefloor, just out of reach of the fingers poised to the heavens.
For the most part however, f
IN’s individual components find themselves cut from the same easy-going cloth. Buildups are a slow and almost casual affair, hypnotizing in the way that they make themselves known but never insistent to the point of overriding the laconic atmosphere. ‘Depak Ine’ slow burns itself through wordless chants and hazy echoes, buzzing low end and gentle tribal percussion – the kind of sweltering and dripping house that melts the concrete blocks of the kinds of cities you’ll undoubtedly hear this beaming out of for the rest of the year. ‘Missing You’ is haunted funk, primitive and strangely distant, its vocals pools of liquid more vibrating than truly speaking; ‘Oro Y Sangre’ is all synth driven melancholy and 80s electro glam, the kind of tune M83 would have in them if they swapped Parisian chic for the glow of paradise. ‘Last Land’ with its handmade breakbeat and a melody that oozes with the decadence felt from time spent in the better nightclubs of the world, where dancefloors are made out of sand, the dancers only to eager to flirt with the teasing incoming tide, their toes treading water as innocently as a child’s. Even on ‘Destiny’ (one of two co-productions with Pional) with Talabot hiding himself under some of the most serene hooks you’ll hear this year, does the producer effortlessly shine. As a vocal-driven piece it bears perhaps the most scrutiny, but instead of acting as a crutch, Talabot uses the intrusion as the perfect accessory, flattering the accompaniment with a subdued yet equally serene harmony.
There are niggles however, sadly; as an artist previously at peace with reaching far beyond the borders of conventional track lengths, there are moments here that seem to cut off, at times almost abruptly. ‘Last Land’ feels as if it’s just taking off before Talabot snuffs its melody out, the same applies to ‘Etsui’, where it just feels as if it has just found its groove, its niche, before it sails off into the good night. But as an album that deliberately asserts itself among a much more varied clientele than the artist's previous works, he wisely strips the excess back, comfortable with revealing himself more modestly. And it works, gloriously so; f
IN is a much snappier, and quick sure album as a result. Comfortable as the kind of bedroom pop album that almost demands the jumping on of beds, yet equally at home as a declaration against the dying of the day, Talabot’s debut is an album set to become one of those timeless electronic albums
. Timeless because it has no distinct place, instead alive through the influence of others, therefore comfortable anywhere and everywhere; and instead of being a compilation of loosely affiliated beats f
IN instead is a cry of sublime cohesiveness, each track designed to work in perfect unison, to compliment each other. It’s a truly instinctive album, and as it stands now, one of a kind.