Artist: Fez Dispenser
Album: Fez Dispenser
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Hmmm… Fez Dispenser. Strange name. Similarly strange album. Fez Dispenser is the brainchild of Californian based producer Matt A. Thorne, and is an outlet for him to drop tracks that incorporate all his musical influences. This album is a collection of his work, and features him doffing his audio cap to genres as diverse as rock, jazz, big-beat and swing, drum’n’bass, and yes, a little bit of Hiphop (which explains why I’m reviewing it.)
Its kinda hard to review instrumental albums. Hiphop is very much a vocal genre, where focusing on the emcee’s words, and how they fit over the beats is paramount. Describing how an emcee sounds… how he/she comes off on the mic… its easy compared to reviewing an album where there’s nothing but beats on display. In my experience, instrumental albums often fail to move me simply because after the first few minutes of every track I start to tune out – I’ve heard the basics of the track, and no matter how the artist tries to switch things up, its all gonna still be built around the same loop, or kick, or sample. This is the case with most Hiphop instrumental joints I’ve ever listened to, so I was interested to find out if the incorporation of other genres into the mix would break things up a little, or if my “2 minute drill” was still in effect.
Things kick off with the high tempo ‘Thank You Would Have Done Nicely’. which features a repetitive drum’n’bass loop with layers of guitars and chimes thrown into the mix. To be honest it did little for me, and I was quickly skipping to the more interesting ‘Castillian Fennel Dub’ and ‘Smoothin’. The former has a very interesting broken-up organ type of thing going on, with some nice little horn stabs sprinkled over the top, while the latter tricks you into thinking you’re about to hear some old Meters-type shit with its old style guitar and big-beat break, before racing off into “60’s detective theme tune” terrority. I must admit that I did like both these tracks a lot.
The next few tracks are similarly impressive. ‘Yet Again’ is built around a heavy set of bongos, and instantly draw comparisons with tracks on the classic Bomb The Bass album “Into The Dragon.” (Go look it up.) ‘BB Gat’ speeds things up again, incorporating some distorted African chants into a blend of rock guitar and horn fills. ‘That’s Not Acid Jazz’ meanwhile takes all the best elements from the Brand New Heavies and does its best to make a mockery of the track title with a funky mix of chimes, cymbals, and rootsy electric guitar.
Things take a downturn with the pedestrian attempt at dub that is ‘Grease Slick’, before picking up again with the title track. This one probably shows the most Hiphop influence on here – albeit Hiphop from a Dan The Automator-type of view… independent, pushing against the grain, gritty… it unashamedly jacks elements from several other genres to create a track that sounds original AND possesses a nice line in boom-bap.
The second portion of the album is a little more mellow, and perhaps a little weaker. ‘He Speaks’ does for speech recognition software what De La Soul’s ‘Transmitting Love From Mars’ did for “Learn The French Language” records, although in a slightly more irritating fashion. ‘Lake Placiydl’ and ‘Really I Do’ are EXTREMELY laidback – the audio equivalent of two drunks wading through treacle.
Its not all bad – there are a couple of highspots on the second half too though. ‘Lucky 14’ features electro synths, and almost random organ keypresses, that somehow manages to sound weirdly entertaining due to its resemblance to a cheesy cabaret act on crack. Meanwhile ‘Everything Works’ and ‘Watch For Falling Doors’ are nice little returns to previously visited Brand New Heavies territory, with the latter in particular only requiring N’dea Davenport or Siedah Garrett on vocals to convince me that it IS a BNH cut!
Summing this up is much easier than I thought it would be. Its an acquired taste… for those who are more into spitting rhymes on time at the drop of a dime, this is gonna sound like little more than the lounge muzack they play in trendy womens’ clothing stores and nu-cuisine restaurants. You won’t like it. However for those who are a little experimental in their tastes – this may be right up your street, and perhaps a nice little gap can be found in your collection that Fez Dispenser could fill.