Record Label: Warp
The future of music is emerging as neither entirely dystopian, nor entirely optimistic - the new avant-garde are collapsing these divergent outlooks into something that hopes to bridge the opposite poles of the organic and the fabricated, the physical and the mental, the vague past and the aggressive future. As if to speak directly to this duality, there are elements of Lafawndah's ritual club music that are both inherently trance-like and intuitively tangible. It is rhythm as melody and voice as rhythm and it surfs a broken 4G signal from the meditative fusion of Geinoh Yamashirogumi and Jon Hassell's 'Fourth World' music to the ballistic battle cries of dancehall and devotional musics.
Lafawndah exists at a unique crossroads between vocalist and producer, conceptualist and performer - a disciple of hyperlinked global sonics and steadfastly urban attitude. Like her acclaimed 2014 debut EP, the recording of Tan began on an island with the same minimal studio set-up. This time, with collaborators Nick Weiss and Tamer Fahri, it was Fire Island off the South Shore of New York rather than the Caribbean island of Guadalupe. Soon enough proceedings hopped to the totemic island of Manhattan, where she embodied the role of executive producer by folding the like-minded ADR and L-Vis 1990 into her process to help realize a warped vision of esoteric industrial rhythms fused to an aggressive palate of nomadic atmospherics that brings to mind Muslimgauze and the twisted pop orchestrations of Leila without sounding remotely like either. Friends first and collaborators second, the unique group operated more as an orchestrated band - not 'producing', but working cohesively to accelerate Lafawndah's momentum.
The songs on Tan are married to the sound and vice-versa, they are confrontationally playful, determined compositions and each track exists as a kind of suite with such a degree of narrative and musical morphing that Lafawndah seems to channel fragments of Grace Jones, Lady Saw, Psychic TV, Kate Bush and Missy Elliot into a theatrical soundclash that arrives at something entirely her own.
In the now, everything exists as a fusion. It is the meaningfulness within these myriad connections that proves so difficult to find. Lafawndah presents an alternative, a metallic idea of sensuality and defiance that is fluid, unsentimental and assertive. Just in time.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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