Sometimes mystery is a good thing. Irish producer Faws has appeared online with little fanfare, even less background information, and a gorgeous five-track EP that sets the benchmark high for other new acts this year. The Antonym EP landed with little fanfare on Christmas Eve, but it is just starting to pick up momentum right now. Citing influences such as Burial and Mos Def, it’s clear that this anonymous artist is keen to make great music without getting caught up in the fanfare of publicity.
What better title then for the EP’s opener than “Take Notice”? Beginning with some delightfully muted atmospherics reminiscent of DjRUM’s EP for 2nd Drop last year, it comes to life with some delicate 808 kicks that brush in at a foot-tapping pace. These are embellished with an indecipherable vocal that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Burial release. Distant conversations loom deep beneath these elements, lending a tinge of menace to the otherwise pleasant proceedings. “Camille” is a collage of clicks, whirs and 808 crashes centred around a twisted vocal crying “I love you baby“. Buried in the mix is a march-like cry of 1-2-3-4 that punctuates each phrase and gives the otherwise languid track no small amount of urgency. “Paper Jam” is a remarkable piece of work. It begins with a sense of gentle darkness, building up to a phrase-ender that’s somewhere between a sharp intake of breath and a car revving up. This builds in turn toward the sound of an answering machine beep, which precedes the sound of a child calling her mother. A series of messages play out under an ever-growing mood of anger and desperation – plea after plea of “Mommy, I just want to talk to you“. The unresolved anguish of this child’s experience only adds to the feeling of despair in this darkly beautiful track.
“Worries”, meanwhile, is a lot more light of heart. An intriguing seven-bar phrase (or eight, depending on how long the bars are, but who’s counting) complements a charming vocal that utters “I don’t worry about achievements, I worry primarily about whether there are nightclubs in heaven”. This melody and vocal combination shows an artist who knows when it’s time to be dark and serious and when to keep one’s tongue firmly in cheek. The EP draws to a close with the creaking atmospherics of “Empty Bottles”. Shorter than the rest, it’s a slower affair built around household sounds like doors opening and slamming shut and grandfather clocks, topped off with a muted and plaintive vocal.
Accompanying the EP came the following words: “Faws aims to pave his own sound, and disconnect the music from any persona, letting the music speak for itself.” With these five tracks he’s done just that, and expertly so. I know I’m not the only one anxious for more.