Release Date: Jul 24, 2012
Record label: !K7
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Back in the 1980s, we kids used to make cassette mixtapes for a couple of reasons: first, and most importantly, to flirt with the objects of our romantic desire. Second, to show off our musical sophistication -- nothing says "I'm hip" like having a piece of vegetarian propaganda by Flux of Pink Indians segue into an album track from Altered Images. With the Tapes series, the !K7 label seeks to revive the mixtape tradition, inviting artists as varied as the Rapture and Big Pink to put together programs with that approach in mind -- not to make a typical DJ mix, but to compile a track list as if it were intended for the two sides of a cassette tape.
German record label !K7 have been running their DJ-Kicks series since 1995, giving artists, producers and DJs (DUH!) the chance to showcase the music they love. Four Tet did one. Kode9 did one. Gold Panda did one. They were ace. Then, in 2008, !K7 decided to let guitar bands in on it, so they ….
“Most consumers gave up on cassette tapes years ago,” quips a matter-of-fact female voiceover. “The Oxford English dictionary says it is removing the term ‘cassette player’ from its concise dictionary.” The fading saccharine voice begins Foals’ latest Tapes project with a cynical cry of these modern times, lamenting the fading glory of the eight-track sound and its reel to reel simplicity. Admittedly, it’s a strangely funny statement to hear while listening to this pre-release via a link on Soundcloud.
"Most consumers gave up on cassette tapes years ago, and the Oxford English Dictionary says it is removing the word 'cassette player' from its dictionary. " This news report opens Foals' entry in German label !K7's Tapes series, indicating some desolation at the demise of the rectangular plastic medium. It's too literal an introduction to the Oxford band's wide-reaching addition to the series (which was compiled by the band's keyboardist, Edwin Congreave), clunkily and inadvertently embracing the world of fey frippery from which you imagine Foals would rather distinguish themselves.
Review Summary: Tape in, turn on, freak outHave you ever wondered what tunes the keyboard player from Foals likes to relax to? Did you know that they even HAVE a keyboard player? Are you willing to pay full RRP for what amounts to a compilation CD made by some bloke from Oxford? If the answer to any or all of these questions is “Yes” then by jove you’re in for a treat.Ignore the sceptic. Despite a dodgy premise, Tapes is ultimately an appreciable effort. The album is, philosophically speaking, an ode to the largely obsolete art of mixtapes.
In the band’s free time, apparently Foals doesn’t listen to music that sounds like Foals, or at least that’s the conclusion to be drawn after listening to Tapes, their addition to the !K7 Tapes series. Compiled by keyboardist Edwin Congreave and spanning the collective records of the rest of the band, Tapes is a ramshackle collection of everything from tacky disco to uninspiring house, full of surprises and completely devoid of any of the grooving bass lines and math rock/dance punk tendencies we’ve come to know and love from the UK outfit. With that established, though, the mixtape begins to stand on its own merits, as a carefully assembled, eclectic collection that’s worth spinning until their third LP arrives.
!K7's Tapes is a mix series with a twist. The tracks are split across two notional sides—one song-driven, the other dance music—and, in the same way that C90 compilations were once a highly personal way of sharing music, so these mixes are meant to shed some light on the inner musical life of your favourite bands.Unfortunately, all this third instalment tells us is that Oxford indie dance outfit, Foals, still have a lot to learn about mix dynamics. "It's easy to throw some random music together and call it a DJ mix, but I wanted to make something more ambitious," pledges the band's DJ, Edwin Congreave, in the press release.
Composing a mixtape is something that everybody has surely done at some point. The one thing that almost everyone finds when doing so, is that it is an incredibly stressful task with an endless amount of tracks and sounds to choose from. The pressure to compile a great collection is even greater when you are one of the UK’s foremost progressive bands.