John Talabot – ƒIN

written by: February 24, 2012
Release Date: February 7th, 2012


John Talabot is a Barcelonan producer. While ƒIN is technically his debut full-length, he’s already been on the scene with a series of lauded EPs, including last year’s Families. And while he technically does House, he does it without any of the trashy, stale connotations that have swarmed the genre. For a good deal of the album it’s hard to discern “House” at all. This album, dubiously titled ƒIN, seems not only to have been made by a like-minded band but a well-seasoned, intuitively minded band, that has learned from the mistakes of its first few albums.

If there’s one thing you can count on from Young Turks its making music that unapologetically delves into the heart of darkness. Their artists pen albums that from the first track emanate a beautifully bleak aesthetic. For ƒIN that track is “Depak Ine.” and what an introduction it makes. The album emerges like a raft from the mists of the Amazon, surrounded on all sides by a sultry, vibrating jungle where the cries of a thousand nameless beasts surround from the impassable depths. There too are the spirit chants of the forest, beckoning onward until tribal drums enter in equally wild reverie.

Where Talabot succeeds unconditionally is in selection of sounds. The production quality could be crisper, the grooves altered and even the instruments tweaked but it just wouldn’t suit ƒIN. This is a work that begs to be played live by a band, there’s such thought put into each part, none overstepping its part or fading too long, that it’s often a wonder how one man arranged it. The builds and falls show a patient sophistication on the part of the artist far transcending his experience. “El Oeste” swirls into a Phillip Glass-esque arpeggiator-line, instated so many times that eventually the mind become numbed and, like chanting in tones, put into another place.

Is ƒIN calming? In a strange and counter-intuitive way, yes. The effect is so brooding that it becomes meditative and one can’t help but be absorbed in its magic. Moods range from basking in the Catalonian sun (“Last Land”) to low-budget slasher flick (“Oro y Sangre”.) It’s also one of those volume-dependent albums—softly its work from home music, loudly it’s grab whoever’s nearest and start thumping tailfeathers. Somehow it never tilts into “blank-stare” there’s always one element that grabs at the ears if not the hips. “When the Past Was Present” pairs a juicy, eighties Miami bassline under a writhing soul voice, it’s glowing and rejoicing at once. “H.O.R.S.E.” beckons with wild, tempestuous rhythms swirling under the organ sounds. It’s a stakeless game of catch-me-if-you-can. If there’s a hole in the quiltwork of ƒIN it’s that there are a few tracks that don’t seem to belong. “Estiu,” is by most accounts Chillwave and not bad at that–but not of the Talabot realm. The upbeat, vocal-assisted groove of “Journeys,” seems out of place with its Merriweather Post Pavillion brand of indie-pop–but is an otherwise stellar track.

If Talabot has thus far managed to fly under the radar, he shouldn’t be able to for long. Already, the two album tracks featuring Pional have begun circuiting the hipper disco palaces of the continent and will soon, no doubt, jump the drip. One in particular, album closer “So will be now…” with its superb vocal sampling, finger snaps and droning deep-house groove has met rave response, even among the masses. When an artist melds together an unconventional collection of songs so convincingly, with such studied hands–on his first attempt–the appeal becomes universal.

John Talabot – ƒIN tracklist

  1. “Depak Ine”
  2. “Destiny” (featuring Pional)
  3. “El Oeste”
  4. “Oro y Sangre”
  5. “Journeys” (featuring Ekhi)
  6. “Missing You”
  7. “Last Land”
  8. “Estiu”
  9. “When the Past Was Present”
  10. “H.O.R.S.E.”
  11. “So Will Be Now” (featuring Pional)