The fun thing about writing for a website like this is that once in a while something completely different rolls into your mailbox. Suddenly you come face to face with a style of music you’ve never really heard before. So when we received an e-mail from Angström records, offering us a chance to review Fujako’s new e.p. we didn’t really know what to do with it or who to give it to. Nobody at Merchants of Air is really experienced in hip-hop, even if it’s an alternative version of the genre.
We know about acts like Dälek and Immortal Technique but that’s about it. Yet, we like a challenge once in a while so we decided to give it a shot. After all, we’re supposed to be open minded and to not restrict ourselves to genres. So we downloaded the promo-copy, loaded it into our media player and put the volume up, still a little skeptical about what this Portuguese/Belgian duo was about to unleash on us. Reading they would support Shabazz Palaces in Brussels didn’t really improve our expectation. We listened to the latter once before and didn’t like it one little bit.
During the first track we were still in doubt but knowing it was only an intro we endured. And we were right to do so because what came after, was very interesting to say the least. Either Fujako have been listening to Einstürzende Neubauten, Kode 9 and Brighter Death Now a lot or they havefound themselves a unique niche that makes most other hip-hop acts sound stale and unimaginative.
Apart from the gritty beats and raps (that sometimes remind us of the recently deceased and heavily missed Spaceape) there’s tons of industrial and power-electronics in these tracks. Fujako obviously know how to create an eerie but uplifting sensation. Combining noise with dub and a hint of dubstep, they produce a very tasty and original sound. Title track Soul Buzz is probably the most hip hop like track and also the noisiest of this e.p. while J A, my personal favourite, is a dark minimal dub track. The Preacher’s Echo brings out the Haus Arafna-style industrial noise in a very powerful manner. The last two tracks are dub versions of Soul Buzz & J A but sound very different, finishing the album in a bit of a Mad Professor style.
The music never gets obtrusive, which is pretty surprising since both industrial and hip-hop often do have that pushy nature. Soul Buzz is a startling mini-album that still seems to change and evolve, even after a few listens. It’s multiformity makes this a welcome addition to the collection of every hip-hop, noise, dub, ambient or experimental music fan. The only question is, where does this music belong? On one side it’s too experimental for the hip-hop world and too hip-hop for the experimental music listeners. On the other hand, it carries the variations that keep the musical industry fresh and innovative.
Soul Buzz is released on 10” by the respected Angström Records label. There will be only 330 hand numbered copies available so you might want to get your hands on one of them quickly. The eerie artwork makes it even more interesting, reminding us of dark ambient releases. We can only recommend buying it because whatever genre you’re in, this little nugget will slowly lure you into liking it.
By the way, here's a video for The Preacher's Echo