John Talabot – ƒIN (Permanent Vacation)
February 10, 2012 by Aurora Mitchell
Like many producers, Talabot has made a conscious effort to keep a low profile, although not to fuel hype or create a mysterious air. He believes that if people see the person before listening to the music; they’re going to have preconceived ideas about the person and probably make a judgment solely on image. Especially when image has been gradually dominating over music in the case of more mainstream acts for a number of years, it’s clear that Talabot is someone who thinks at length about these things.
It feels as if Barcelona based producer John Talabot has popped up from nowhere with his debut album ƒIN but actually, he’s been making music under John Talabot since 2009 and under various alias’ before this. Talabot has moved around from label to label, starting off with Permanent Vacation then switching to Hivern (his own label) then just last year he released his ‘Families’ EP on Young Turks. Although, he’s come full circle and has released his debut album on Permanent Vacation. Previously collaborating with Glasser, ƒIN sees Talabot collaborate with Pional and Ehki.
‘Destiny’, featuring Pional, the first extract from his debut full length, sounds like a Hispanic version of Caribou with Pional’s ethereal vocals repeating ‘destiny’ over and over as a texturally complicated instrumental crescendos and vocal harmonies weave their way throughout until a drum beat finally emerges. One thing that Talabot is excellent at is slow builders but where some slow builders just plateau, the songs on ƒIN keep on climbing until they reach their climatic point. Mixing a flamenco beat that sounds like someone vigorously dancing off-beat in tap shoes with electronic elements like that of Caribou, ‘Destiny’ is undoubtedly a standout on ƒIN.
In other places, Talabot is more experimental, like on ‘Oro Y Sangre’ [meaning Gold and Blood in Spanish]. The track starts off with samples of a door creaking open and stereotypical horror movie screams before gradually adding in elements, starting off with a generic drum machine beat and then adding a flamenco-inspired drum pattern over the foundation of a sludgy synth loop. ‘Journeys’, featuring Ehki, is more Animal Collective-y with a bouncing synth line and echoing vocal harmonies.
Ever since Caribou’s Swim, a great electronic album has been missing from my life and ƒIN fills this void nicely. Full of samples of nearly every instrument, strange sound effects you might find on old Yamaha keyboards and Hispanic influences, Talabot manages to mix sounds that aren’t conventionally mixed together and makes it flow as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. ƒIN is the most innovative album so far this year and one of the exceptional debuts of many that will be flooding 2012.