John Talabot ƒin Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

The Spanish producer stays ahead of the game by adhering exclusively to his own rules.

Mike Diver 2012

With the armchair dancefloor a cluttered place at the best of times, it can be hard for high-quality discs from producers proffering cerebral beats to truly stand out amongst the assembled almost-rans. For every Sascha Ring there’s an individual with a basic grasp of GarageBand but a bevy of the right contacts and, click, there’s an LP that ticks so many on-paper boxes only to disappoint when the record spins. But Barcelona’s John Talabot has here nailed his sublime colours to 2012’s electro mast in no little style: these 11 tracks sing with a sweetness that points solely towards success. Yes, it’s only February, but there’s a reason why Resident Advisor has called ƒin a contender for album of the year, and why Pitchfork pinned its Best New Music badge on its coverage: it’s a really, really good record.

A really, really good record that almost disconnects itself from the listener before it’s begun, if the truth be told, as opener Depak Ine is seven minutes of immersive but oddly underwhelming ambience, carried by gentle beats which meander woozily. It’s of a high standard, skirting close to the tropical tones of El Guincho if his rainbow wares were left to run in the rain, but relegated to relatively skippable status once what follows has lodged itself in the corners of one’s cranium.

Destiny, one of two tracks to feature fellow Spaniard Pional, is a delightful spin on vocal house, laid-back of atmosphere but never losing touch with a propulsive backbone, its skittering percussion maintaining an underlying liveliness. (Think: Panda Bear possessed by Pantha du Prince.) Little here is quite as blissfully bleached as Talabot’s breakthrough track of 2009, Sunshine, but Journeys is certainly headed towards the coast, guided by guest vocals from Delorean’s Ekhi Lopetegi – anyone taken by the four-piece’s Subiza LP of 2010 will skip along with these summery vibes quite happily.

Elsewhere, H.O.R.S.E. and Oro Y Sangre (translation: "the spoilers") are rather darker of design, the latter featuring screams that may or may not be sampled from someone disappearing down a lift-shaft (let’s hope not). So Will Be Now is a tremendous closer, coming across like a magical midpoint between disco-fied Arthur Russell and Kompakt’s Chilean star Matias Aguayo. Like the opener, it’s less about physical interaction and more likely to connect during down-time, but while Talabot’s focus is consistently on everything but what might qualify as a banger in 2012, there’s no doubting that he’s a master of dance’s forever-changing language. File Talabot beside The Field and Nicolas Jaar as a producer who stays ahead of the game by adhering exclusively to his own set of rules.

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