James Holden’s Border Community has long been seen as an underground imprint likely to enjoy mainstream success, but it’s only now this prophecy looks likely to come to pass. Nathan Fake’s productions, although routinely excellent, were too dreamy and abstract to win mainstream support and Holden himself lacked the patience to enter the pop world – even though he certainly did not lack the creativity. Instead, the honour of most likely pop star in waiting falls to Canadian producer Jake Fairley, aka Fairmont.
Those with long memories and bulging record collections will recall that under his own name, Fairley made a series of stunning widescreen techno records for Berlin label Sender. Though inspired by Detroit melodies and the grainy, unrelenting bass of early ’00s German techno, these releases laid the basis for a sound that has splintered into different strands, all of which reach their logical conclusions here. The muffled vocals and atmospheric hooks of “Cold World” are expressed, albeit using a more downbeat tempo, on the layered synths and downer medication slur of the title track, while the bristling, twitching techno of “Drama” is evident on “Vanguard”, which builds to the sound of Alden Tyrell-style arpeggiated synths. However, Fairley also builds on his more recent work as Fairmont, and the trancey synth hooks, throbbing bass and, on “Cannon”, the androgynous vocals may finally propel Fairley from underground status into the charts.