Release Date: May 18, 2009
Record label: Border Community
Genre(s): Indie, Electronic
H aving protested that he was "not a DJ" circa his 2006 debut, it wasn't long before this Norfolk wunderkind producer seduced clubbers with eclectic DJ sets. The result is writ large on this brilliant second album, which welds his drifting soundscapes to fractious, rapturous techno..
A lot can change in three years, a fact made evident by former Norfolk bedroom producer Nathan Fake’s sophomore album. In 2003, the then-19-year-old Fake (his real name) caught the attention of circuit bender James Holden, who promptly released his debut “Outhouse” single as the second ever release on his trendsetting Border Community label. Three years later, Fake had gone from obscurity to having the likes of Michael Mayer and Apparat remixing his tunes, while his 2006 full-length debut record Drowning in a Sea of Love released to widespread critic praise (including an 8.4 from Pitchfork, no less).
While Nathan Fake's first full-length album (2006's Drowning in a Sea of Love) totally worked as a listenable and light-as-air take on the whole pastoral IDM thing, it also posed more questions about Fake's future than it answered. Consisting primarily of swathes of quivering synths intermingling with effortlessly melodic plinks and plonks, Drowning didn't just come on the death knell of that particular strand of electronic music-- it pretty much soundtracked it. Three years on, it's hard to imagine there's much of an appetite for any new music that sounds like Boards of Canada that isn't actually, you know, by Boards of Canada-- so what next for the 25-year-old Fake? The answer, as it turns out, lies with his earlier EPs.
James Holden’s Border Community label can comfortably don the title of ‘pioneering electronic label’, something previously chartered by the better known likes of Warp, Ninja Tune etc. But as those labels split their wares with template-shattering artistry and new-found accessibility, BC has certainly prospered with its subtle take on proceedings. Accommodating both the dance floor and the armchair, BC has produced a string of alternative electronic beasts, as well as remaining true to its true calling of super-club potential.
Instead of issuing a proper follow-up full-length to his electronic psyche opus Drowning in a Sea of Love, producer Nathan Fake rests in the comfortable middle for Hard Islands, a thirty-some minute “mini album” of volatile techno that mirrors his earlier works while driving them into an often likable and sinister direction. This “abbreviated manifesto logic” that suffices in lieu of an LP is contagious over at the Border Community headquarters. Label chieftain and producer/DJ James Holden took that road not long ago for his 2006 The Idiots Are Winning mini-album, a much closer cousin to Hard Islands than Drowning.