Posted on Aug 29th 2012 01:30 am
Border Community 2012
11 Tracks. 48mins51secs
It has been almost ten years since a young Nathan Fake caught the attention of DJs with his debut EP, Outhouse, published on Border Community. Since, the Norfolk native has released countless more EPs and two albums, Drowning In A Sea Of Love in 2006 and Hard Islands in 2009. After the definite techno influences of his early releases, Fake’s first album showed a much more varied and pastoral approach, yet with Hard Islands, he was once again firmly focusing on the dance floor, this time in a much more concentrated and minimal form. With Steam Days, Fake is once again taking a more liberal and playful stance as he brings dreamy electronica, lo-fi techno and bucolic house together.
With his last album, Fake seemed to have left behind some of the fresh-faced fun that had infused much of his earlier work and had instead descended onto the sweatiest of dance floor. If vestiges of this can still be found on Steam Days, especially in its second half, Fake opts here for an overall more open and varied set of compositions, which take him from the elegant motifs of Paean or Iceni Strings or the much more minimal forms of Old Light or Neketona to the harsher outlines of World Of Spectrum or Harnser and the atmospheric Rue or Warble Epics. The scope is so wide here that it at times feels as if this could be the collected works of a handful of mavericks musicians endlessly refracting each others music, yet the album has more of a cohesive tone than such remark may lead to think.
Fake alternates between sleek and DIY production, which are bound to attract comparisons with anyone from Boards Of Canada to Clark, but he bends this to suit his own purpose. Touches of psychedelia colour the opening four tracks of this album, but past Iceni Strings and Old Light, these are all but gone as Fake shifts to earthier soundscapes from pretty much the remainder of the record. Harnser pushes towards a much dryer electro set up, and from there on, Fake assembles coarser soundscapes and intensifies the pace and intensity, especially on pieces such as World Of Spectrum, Neketona or Glow Hole. Amidst all this though, he allows for a moment of reflection, Rue slipping away into much dreamier terrains, its drone-like form, although changing through the course of the whole piece, appearing strangely static.
Although Steam Days shares with its predecessor a taste for the dance floor, Nathan Fake has assembled here a much more diverse record which also owes to the laid-back and dreamy aspect of his debut. But, if Fake openly references the past as he incorporates elements of early to mid-nineties techno and electronica, he does so confidently and adapts it all to give it a modern touch to create a rather playful and enjoyable soundtrack.