Andrew Broder aka Fog started to make this album with one simple question on his mind. Is there more to using a turntable to make your music than as a vehicle for showing how good you are at playing the turntable? The answer is complicated, but its also beautiful, as well as funny, sometimes sad and, in its own sweet, downbeat way, sort of uplifting. Or to put it another way, the answer can be yes.
As influenced by post-rock, folk and blues as much as hip hop, Broder has aimed to make a record which moves you, rather than just making you bob your head and your mind revel in the technique. Its a risky strategy, leaving Fog open to all manner of snide asides, but we think he succeeds admirably.
This is still a cut and paste album but it also uses guitars and Broders singing to make a unique sound. Its a record of such single-minded strangeness that its not clear if anyone will ever catch up, or even what there is to catch up with.
Enough. Listen and learn? We cant even describe what Broder is doing, so well leave him to talk you through a few choice moments: "Check Fraud is covered in dust. Smell of Failure is a blustery Minnesota winter wind. Pneumonia is mildew-encrusted hope. Were a Mess is deep-sea country-hopeless. Glory (featuring genius Dose One) and And Stay Out are quitters anthems. Oh, and Ghoul Expert contains the best line I ever wrote Hello filth/ Youd be proud/ Tonight I gave the I dont want to weird you out speech. Add anything you want to add."
What else is there to say?
Two turntables and a microphone--and, a box load of old synths, a guitar, a four-track recorder and a crate of truly weird vinyl: that's the way it is with Minneapolis-based hip-hop project Fog. Forget all that equipment a second, though, because this is a one man band--the creation of Andrew Broder, a hip-hop fan frustrated by the genre's limitations, and determined to explode them. He came to Ninja Tune's attention through his ties to hip-hop surrealists cLOUDEAD
, and this, his debut album, has much in common with that group's pioneering work: eerie soundscapes, feverishly weird turntable scratching, lyrics that walk the tightrope between genius and pretension and a total disregard for anything approaching formula.
The gorgeous "Pneumonia" is a bare, confessional strum-a-long that could almost pass for a ramshackle early work by Badly Drawn Boy, while the likes of "Truth And Laughing Gas" come on like a punk-rock DJ Shadow, ripping up atmospheric beats and spitting them back in a riot of splintered breaks and wild scratch gymnastics. Dose One of cLOUDEAD even crops up with a guest lyric on "Glory". This is indie-rap as it should be done. --Louis Pattison