There is something totally appealing about knowing nothing about the artist behind a song you like. Where Lana Del Rey‘s personality has been exploded, dissected, chewed up and spat out countless times over the last few weeks (to little noticeable effect, debuting at #1 hear today in spite of it all), the focus on an artist’s persona, particularly in these image-obsessed times, tends to distract from the issue at the heart of music; the music itself. Ambiguity and anonymity, as Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye has proved with the intense interest around his debut release ‘House Of Balloons‘ and his ongoing popularity now, can serve a new artist well. Buzz always grows when there is the prospect of a supergroup or a faded superstar rekindling their former magic. The more general reality – a total unknown looking to generate a fuss by hiding behind a pseudonym – doesn’t deter the investigators. So it is with Faws, a Dublin-based downtempo hip-hop producer. Those two descriptors are all we’ve got for now. Oh, and he’s a guy.
With no physical release in sight, a Facebook page with only about 270 likes (quality not quantity!) and only five songs on his debut EP, ‘Antonym’ (available only as a stream via his Bandcamp page), Faws was poised to hit the Internet with all the excitement of a Christmas cracker when he launched it December 24. Releasing anything on Christmas Eve, even more so than keeping biographical information to yourself, is a dangerous move. Regardless of those insatiable curiosities which demand we search for real names, career background and the like, Christmas Eve, along with New Years and maybe Thanksgiving/4th July are days when you simply do not release music. As the EP title might suggest, however, if we know anything about Faws it’s that he doesn’t like to do things normally. His two commercial decisions to date (name, release) haven’t been antonymical as much as they’ve been anathema to fledgling success.
And ‘Take Notice’, the first track from ‘Antonym’, is no less an affront to traditional musical tastes. At 4’23”, it meanders casually through sections of loungey keys and clicks to looped RnB vocals, sparse percussion and then back again. The ambient genre isn’t particularly taken with the pursuit of narrative teleology but Faws takes the disavowal of structure to new heights of nonchalance, hardly concerned that we’re not actually going anywhere with ‘Take Notice’ and more preoccupied with constructing a mood. As far as fashioning a musical attitude goes, Faws excels. Just don’t come to ‘Antonym’ expecting to be moved. On the contrary, Faws is about staying in one place, taking in all that the stationary life affords and dwelling in the moment. ‘Take Notice’ is striking as a sketch but even for its preliminary character, it never feels underdone. For fans of The Weeknd who dig the soulfulness of Del Rey but don’t want the personality baggage of either. You might not know who he is, who he hangs with or what his influences are but the careful consideration of this track will make you ‘Take Notice’.
Faws – Take Notice