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Timothy J. Fairplay – Somebody, Somewhere review

In discussion with the excellent Test Pressing website recently, Hardway Brothers producer and A Love From Out Of Space resident Sean Johnston described his style of music as “an oasis of slow in a world of increasing velocity,” and further qualified this by remarking on the blandness of much of contemporary house and techno.

Giving no names himself, it would seem churlish to attempt to identify any possible suspects Johnston is referring to. His musical reaction to this preponderance of meekness is the perfect counterbalance and one that others should adopt too, whether you approach music as a producer or consumer. Timothy J. Fairplay – a fellow member of Johnston’s tongue in cheek Scrutton Street Axis alongside Weatherall, Scott Fraser and others – is providing for this writer some of the most compelling music away from the dull thud and manufactured emotion that typifies much of today’s shallow house.

It’s an approach Fairplay discussed elsewhere on this site recently, revealing a disregard for the functionality and glossy nature of so much contemporary dance music which echoes the sentiments of Johnston, and has been demonstrated in the music from Fairplay that has been released lately – most notably his contributions to the World Unknown and Bird Scarer labels.

Mainlining into a grubby analogue swing, “Cleopatra Loves The Acid” can increasingly be viewed as the track which bestowed Fairplay with the confidence to plough his own distinct brand of echo laden music that combines elements of theatricality with both cinematic and musical references.  “The Final Reel”, Fairplay’s opening gambit for Bird Scarer, was Fairplay in full swing, cross referencing John Carpenter and Klaus Schulze in a bold production that only looks to introduce a recognisable beat as the track nears the runout groove.

During a recent video interview with FACT, Weatherall jokingly referred to someone pointing out to him he’s doing something wrong if he can’t sell out a pressing of 300 records with nearly thirty years of dancefloor exposure behind him. However there was certainly enough quality to the track to ensure it would sell regardless of affiliation with the self confessed Edwardian luddite.

This quality is very much in evidence on Somebody, Somewhere, Fairplay’s latest release, a four track EP on the fledgling Emotional Response label which is promising some quite interesting releases over the coming months. Central to the label’s remit is to grant artists the freedom to explore and indulge their experimental sides – the debut release was Jason Letkiewicz composing imaginary soundtracks as Alan Hurst for example – and given this license to express, the former Battant bassist excels across the richly detailed four tracks which exist in different rhythmic realms and offer further insight into his musical makeup.

Fans of the aforementioned Bird Scarer release or Weatherall and Johnston’s club night will find much to appreciate in the lead track “Aim For The Yellow Sector” and “SacoBay”. Both come lovingly wrapped in those hazy cinematic tones that evoke Fairplay’s love of odd synthesiser music from days gone past, with richly drawn tones spiralling with louche intent across the channels, while the rhythmic momentum is pockmarked with numerous subtle alterations.

Providing some intriguing contrast, the remaining two tracks veer into dub territory, with “Somebody, Somewhere” reminiscent of some of Weatherall’s attempts to merge rockabilly with disco. Dragged out brittle percussion is the foundation from which Fairplay toys with your emotions, with an initial creeping, foreboding sense soon engulfed by one of shimmering, enchanting hope as church organs duel with low slung post punk riffs. And then we come to “I Do Not Believe” which can be viewed as a distant digidub cousin to the Ptolemaic body music of his World Unknown contribution and hints at Fairplay’s past of attending that mecca of London club land, FWD.

Tony Poland


Tracklisting:

1. The Yellow Sector
2. Somebody, Somewhere
3. Saco Bay
4. I Do Not Believe