Review: Fains – Fains (Scissor Tail, 2012)Posted: April 2, 2012
In the last five years or so, the term “tape drone scene” became an universal umbrella term for all types of new music released on cassettes, ranging from psychedelic folk to minimal techno and all record labels releasing forward-thinking music of the deep underground. As much as there is still quite of lot strictly drone music being released on tapes, it doesn’t take a Piero Scaruffi to figure out a simple shift in the whole “scene”: drone is out. Well, maybe not completely out; rather, it became a part of a bigger, more adventurous whole. Same with labels: even the ones who were considered to be the strictly “drone” ones are expanding in new directions, assimilating more and more types of music into an eclectic mix far from the trappings of one specific genre.
Fains s/t cassette, released on fresh Tulsa-based label Scissor Tail Records, is one of such eclectic enterprises: it is a gallery of beat-based glimpses of electronic genius, cranking out immersive tunes that jump from one genre from another, defying attempts at pigeonholing – is it IDM? Ambient? Synth pop? Glitch hop? Scotty Griffith (the mastermind behind Fains) doesn’t care what people try to classify his music as. It is refreshing to hear an album from the depths of the tape scene so welcoming and accessible, even to the outsiders. Many got used to the fact that cassettes have to be murky, filled with hiss and obscured with distortion, the true beauty of the tracks could not be discovered until many repeated listens. This is certainly not the case with Fains: the sound is clear, the melodies are poppy and catchy. Even newcomers will find some welcome reference points: parts of the cassette sound like Radiohead’s “Kid A”, at some other point it sounds like the more electronic moments of Tortoise, there are even some cold and futuristic moments that sound like Autechre circa Draft 7.30.
Scotty Griffith can be considered one of the musicians who, instead of establishing in one narrow genre or style decide to do a little bit of everything (others including Alexey Pushkin or the NYC duo Seabat), translating their wide and eclectic music tastes into equally wide and eclectic compositions.