Fairmont: Coloured in Memory

Filmore Mescalito Holmes

Jacob Fairley's sophomore album as Fairmont secures Border Community as home to the living beat of modern techno. James Holden cannot be stopped.


Coloured in Memory

Label: Border Community
US Release Date: 2007-11-06
UK Release Date: 2007-10-22

James Holden couldn't be on more of a hot streak if he got blasted with napalm at a high school track meet. His very own Border Community label blossomed out of the void in 2003 armed only with a handful of singles. Most of them have since gone on to major club success, astounding expectations and building an empire from the ground up. Though it's primarily a deejay-oriented label, slowly the odd EP and full-length is beginning to peek through and Kraftwerk be damned if audiophiles aren't meeting these collectables with the same caliber of praise and respect as the singles were by "the scene" and its sea of hangers-on.

Petter's well-used ambient trance Six Songs EP from 2004 and Nathan Fake's IDM goes shoegazing debut LP the next year first got heads turning with thorough critic praise and usage on all the big compilations of the day. The label appeared on worldwide radars as one to keep your eyes on. Holden's own premiere full-length venture in '06 only sweetened the deal, with his signature style of slow building, circuit bending progressive. As the third long-player Coloured In Memory lands in stores and collections, this momentum shows no sign of waning.

Toronto ex-pat Jacob Fairley made an immediate splash for Border Community under his Fairmont pseudonym with his introductory four-track single "Gazebo" in late '05. The title track from that 12-inch made all the rounds on the back of a steady chugging beat and a wonderfully playful plinky melody. It immediately landed on literally dozens of samplers and DJ mixes, more than any other single issued with the Holden seal to that point. In fact, it was such a success, spawning several repressings, reissues, and a catalogue of remixes, that there was essentially no choice but to follow it up with more. Coloured in Memory does the job thoroughly.

Jake Fairley, who claims a couple albums under his given name, actually debuted his Fairmont alter ego back in 2001 to show his sensitive side. He didn't nurture it though, only managing a couple singles and a full-length on Traum Schallplatten within the span of a few months before temporarily retiring the project. 2002's Paper Stars definitely showed promise, but with Coloured In Memory in hand, the difference is night and day. The production value is richer and fuller across the board, leaving Paper Stars sounding like a bunch of half finished ideas by comparison.

Nothing from '02 can even approach the opening "Fold And Saturate". Following the "Gazebo" 12-inch lead, it's another fully realized techno chugger with moaning, arpeggiated synths, playfully bouncing subbase, and an ice-cold vocal refrain. The subsequent "Darling Waltz" takes a more ambitious approach with an embryonic synth lead that evolves from a humble bassline accompaniment to a face stabbing, fist pumping lead, and back. And whatever it does, "Mobula" does it better, with a liquid garbles and warps that play in and about the steady four-four beat like dolphins flying in the push before an ocean liner, occasionally finding the right kind of symmetry and divinely clicking into newfound peaks.

These cuts are easy to point to for evidence of Jacob's progression of skill over the years, some of us play Guitar Hero, others actually practice music, but it's his genre-bending experimentation where he shows his maturity as an artist. "All Good Things" is directed straight at the chill stage with softly echoing percussion, sunrise strings, and mild acid comedown tweaks over an off-time but purposeful hip-hop beat. There's no way that track would support a higher BPM. "1995" is equally impressive, accenting a lightly skittering trip-hop like beat with Boards Of Canada style vocal cut-ups, moody subbase, and depressive, melted synth changes. Throw in a guitar solo on "Calm Before The Storm" and you've got genuine post-rock, with sullen masculine vocals mourning love lost over a proper bass bassline and swarming electric ambiance. That one is downright moving.

"I Need Medicine" gets my nod for album highlight, with its warbled and mutated "if I don't get a sip, then I loose my head" vocals and throwback trance pads that pin down Lord Of The Rings epic progressions from grinding to baby smooth. That's where Jacob really lets his uncanny knack for off kilter melodic layers loose, adding up to the centerpiece being destined for massive success in the scene and beyond. It's really in the eye of the beholder, though, 'cause there are so many standouts to choose from.

Coloured In Memory is favourite track after favourite track till time and social status loses all relevance. Fairmont has clearly tapped into the tribal soul, the root energy of techno still as vibrant today as when Bruce Haack stumbled on it in 1983. The bar has been raised. Holden's third immutable victory in a row makes him the center of one of the new hotpots for radical advancement in the field of danceable electronic music.






West London's WheelUP Merges Broken Beat and Hip-Hop on "Stay For Long" (premiere)

West London producer WheelUP reached across the pond to Brint Story to bring some rapid-fire American hip-hop to his broken beat revival on "Stay For Long".


PM Picks Playlist 4: Stellie, The Brooks, Maude La​tour

Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".


Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.


Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".


Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.


Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.


The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.


Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.


For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?


Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Becky Warren Shares "Good Luck" and Discusses Music and Depression

Becky Warren finds slivers of humor while addressing depression for the third time in as many solo concept albums, but now the daring artist is turning the focus on herself in a fight against a frightful foe.


Fleet Foxes Take a Trip to the 'Shore'

On Shore, Fleet Foxes consist mostly of founding member Robin Pecknold. Recording with a band in the age of COVID-19 can be difficult. It was just time to make this record this way.


'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.


Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.


3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".


'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.


Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.