I had to listen to FDR’s new EP a few times before I finally clocked who it reminded me of. I’m not saying that it’s overly derivative or openly plagiaristic but my mind has filed it alongside Buck 65 and Sage Francis. It’s not that MC’s Godforbid and Thirtyseven sound the same as the aforementioned it’s more of an overall vibe. Now, depending on where you stand you’ll see that comparison as an insult or a compliment. From where I’m standing it’s definitely in praise of FDR.
Musically this is a gorgeous slice of Americana tinged hip hop. Every sound that you hear has been carefully positioned in the perfect place. It’s rare that you’ll hear such expertly crafted music. It’s warm and rich in texture. We often think of beat making as a kind of cut and paste art-form but what FDR offer here is much more in line with the output of a band. These tracks feel like proper compositions. Producers Louis Mackey, Walter Westinghouse and Dr Quandary have achieved something that eludes many. The production is so seamless that I found it hard to tell where the samples stopped and the real instrumentation began. In fact I often found myself wondering how much of this was sample based music. One could be forgiven for deducing that this was mainly original sounds. The real achievement in that though is that it still sounds very much like hip hop. Often when a band plays hip hop it sounds like just that – a band, playing hip hop. That couldn’t be further from the truth here.
So if the music is gorgeous and beautiful and lovely etc, what does it actually sound like? Well, it’s a mix of psychedelic, funk, blues and early rock but rarely does any one genre influence dominate fully. Imagine taking parts from all of those pots and mixing them together in a new pot.
‘Showing Up’ has a lush guitar line that sounds like it could have easily been lifted from the aquatic section of Jimi’s ‘1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)’. It adds a layer of wistful menace to a track about the crippling weight of a guilty conscience.
‘Destroyer of All Things’ sounds like it could have easily come from an early Jefferson Airplane album. It’s all reverb-heavy guitars and spooky glockenspiel sounds. You could easily imagine chasing rabbits into holes with this track soundtracking the whole mindwarping affair.
As a whole this is not a happy, sunny, work. There’s a clue in the title and one only needs to scan the track titles to see that there’s a thematic push going on here. All of that being said, Fear of Death and the Need for Reproduction is a joy to listen to. It’s an expertly crafted collection of high quality songs that rewards repeat listening.