...gentle hybridisation is one of the joys of their music...
Martin Longley 2005-08-12
This seven-piece New Zealand collective record their albums just six feet from Wellington's Lyall Bay beach, in The Drop, which is their converted basement studio den. Released on their own label, Based On A True Story has been a massive success in their antipodean homeland.
The heart of the Fat Freddy sound is reggae, from ska through to dub, to which they add subtlehints of housemusic. This gentlehybridisation is one of the joys of their music; the clear presence of modern dance developments, informing a heartily retro approach.
Producer Fitchie constructs the beats and bassline bedrock of each number on his sampling equipment, then invites the Drop's rich and creamy horn section to lay down their harmonious textures, whilst Dobie Blaze moves through an impressive array of vintage keyboards, even occasionally returning to his old faithful grand piano. It's a solid productiontechnique which produces some wonderful results.
The Fat Freddy mission is to uplift the spirit with positive vibrations, an aim that suits Joe Dukie's velvet-smooth, Southern-soulful vocals. Sometimes he can be a touch too soft, as in the opening of "Dark Days", but even that song eventually improves as it gathers substance.
"Wandering Eye" starts off in soul-blues mode, before the horns start making disco stabs against a rotating kaleidoscope of Terry Rileystyle keyboard. This song's mutation is agood illustration of how the Drop can blend diverse musical styles whilst retaining their own distinctive character. Their motion is slow and sweet, but substantially lolloping (if that makes sense!). Their live set recreates this sound perfectly, and is to be recommended - as is this album - most strongly.