“If you are not satisfied with things as they are, you make the thing to suit your tastes. Offer a more desirable reality. What do you play? Whatever's necessary.”
Exploring wild, new directions in body music, DIN, the debut LP from FAY is an absolutely stunning introduction with a pinpoint focus on retaining the physical within the realm of machine music. While clearly electronic in nature using synthetic sounds, there is a uniquely raw human element in Her music that reflects the amount sweat, blood, and pain expended throughout the creation of DIN that makes it stand unique apart. The album's fractured, meticulously composed sonic structures make nods to modern R&B, looping vocal mantras, exotic rhythms (zouk, gamelan), bass music’s pressurized subs, and musique concrete’s time-disorienting arrangements. Balancing sounds both hypnotic and (sometimes deliberately) harsh, the resulting album is one with few reference points, shrouded in mystery - a mystery that only deepens and intrigues upon closer listen, even as the music and process unveils itself.
The cover art for DIN demonstrates how the record was edited and stitched together, visually. Each sound was placed, not in a grid or sequence, but it's distance in time from the others is measured by visual space. FAY comments "In this way, I could retain a human element, and a performative element. Also, there was an opportunity for chance. I was made to be conscious of every sound I was making along the linear path. Rather than setting up a sequence and letting it run or loop."
Rhythm is central throughout DIN. Separated by clang percussion, album opener "How It Feels Good" feels like episodes, chapters, scenes on a theme. With the protagonist illustrated by the looped vocal, the song is driven by a thumping body drum, like a heartbeat echoing throughout the body. The droning stop-start rhythm in "That's The Part" is a catharsis - a void - almost like you become paralyzed when it turns on, or rather, you are within a thickness, physically, there is only that vibration, it becomes the rhythm at which you move and nothing else can come in until the forced entry of the opposing beat, as if someone had switched the channel. The frantic drums riddims of "Shadow I" are anchored by a steady pulse of sub-frequencies and a loopy, rapid-fire electric piano riff, while "Let It Go"'s stark, sinewy grooves may have you imagine Missy Elliott/Timbaland creating with John Cage's ethos of "getting rid of leaves to make trees visible" in mind.
While all rhythms are carefully crafted, FAY's unique writing/production method allows for mistakes, or rather happy accidents to the prepared observer. "A mistake is, by chance, sometimes quite good, and then can be turned into a strength by choice...a rhythm I wouldn't have constructed on my own, a section of a vocal line accidentally looped, creating a rhythm. Also in this way I could have slight variation constantly. Each measure being slightly different. Or I could have hesitations or a stronger attack," She said.
Ambitious and uncompromising, FAY's debut album is one that stays true to Her Vision. Not only does it maintain the human element, but there is an unflinching to commitment to minimalism and economy throughout. Every sound is carefully placed, and FAY gets the most mileage our of every element in her songs. There are echoes of Eno's idea of "desperation sharpening the aesthetic sense," thoughout the album. Each listen of DIN reveals something new, with every song reflecting cryptic messages like a beacon - deeper understanding is there if you look for it. This not music that you need to conquer, but rather you should submit to it. There is nothing to overcome, just set aside your preconceptions and history and you will be free.
-June 2012, Time No Place
- BODY DRUM