• Thu, Nov 14, 2019
Reviews

Fuzzculture New Album Is Their Most Gritty Yet

7.5

album Reviews Jul 06, 02:44pm

What ‘Escape To Where You’re Wanted’ lacks in organic-ness, it makes up for in personality

The 2000s are now to millennials what disco was to 90s kids. Vocal house, screamo and rap-rock are things today’s listeners prefer to leave forgotten and move on from. Once in a while you get the odd artist that mines these sounds for nostalgic purposes, but for obvious reasons, these artists rarely reach out beyond their target demographic. Fuzzculture (earlier a duo, now the one-man show of Arsh Sharma) is one of the acts which has managed to meld dance music and 2000s rock but make it interesting to listen to. His new album ‘Escape To Where You’re Wanted’ is perhaps his most stiff release yet, but it still refines and improves that sound he is known for.


Speaking of exactly that – the sound – the sonic palate of this release is its most interesting facet. Sharma has this raspy voice that would be right at home in some Three Days Grace or Breaking Benjamin track. It has body and that angry quality that all us 90s kids would listen and feel righteous indignation to. His vocals are layered over these huge, pounding electronic beats (a few with input from drummer Srijan Mahajan) that sit squarely in the realm of stuff that existed before the big room EDM scene destroyed many other genres. Not to say that the instrumentation on this album doesn’t hit hard or anything, because by god, it does. The bass is head-crushing and the drum sounds are incredibly punchy and concussive. There are a lot of electronic flourishes to support these but the main melodic driver of the 8 tracks here is his guitar, which is another element that attempts to bring all these genres together. The only danger is that this is a mix that is very easy to get horribly wrong and very hard to get right. But Fuzzculture avoids screwing things up by making some very smart decisions as to the variety of sounds explored throughout the course of the album, especially with the backing instrumentation. There’s electronica in one song, then some Infected Mushroom-type fast groovy stuff the next, and then some Ratatat or Daft Punk-inspired lower BPM stuff that is unquestionably French in its character, and then you might find some drum n’ bass. It’s a pretty big feat to jump from sound to sound so quickly in just 8 tracks and still make all the tracks sound fairly interesting (well, most).

 

 


If there’s one thing that detracts from this whole idea, it’s that there are some points in the album where the songwriting doesn’t allow enough time for either side to breathe. Opener ‘Beautiful & Valid’ has an industrial feel to it, but the bluesy guitar riff and almost sultry vocals kind of take the grimy, brooding feel away from it. The wobbly bass in the pre-chorus is a much more welcome addition to the song. The fact that the song is only 3 minutes song is also a misstep. But all these faults are remedied instantly in the next track ‘All My Friends Are High’, which combines some old-school electro-rock instrumentation with some modulated clean guitars in the verse and a hook that sounds good on record but will undoubtedly sound more massive live. It must be said that there are breakbeat and big beat (genres popularised by artists like The Prodigy and old Fatboy Slim in the late 90s) influences littered throughout ‘Escape To Where You’re Wanted’; ‘Birds’ is a great example of this. There are those distorted, synths guitars, short breakbeat samples, chopped up vocal samples, a main vocal line that I swear could belong in a Papa Roach greatest hits CD, and some buildups reminiscent of that time. The last two tracks on the album, ‘FTW’ and ‘Do We Get A Grammy Now’ jump straight into breakbeat and drum n’ bass territory; the weird dubstep-y bass sits perfectly well with the high-tempo drums and spacey synths that do more work texturally than melodically. ‘Do We Get A Grammy Now’ has a kickass beat and main riff that will get you amped up as hell. A great closer to the album, this song is bound to rip live. The album does have some weird experimental turns in the middle tracks as well; the title track has some of the most interesting sonic touches on the whole album. It starts with strings and a melody that has ambient vibes (think Minecraft Volume Alpha, maybe?) that goes into acoustic guitar and some truly epic vocals that has this drawn out, synthetic but highly emotional effect. It’s great. The drums also take a slight backseat to the melodic content of this song, which is a rarity on the album. The layered guitars and G-funk synths are also great here. ‘Kids In The Dark’ occupies that downtempo, pulsating part of electronic music that I can only classify as French. It has that vaporwave quality and the laidback feel you find in a lot of music from that region. This track is an example of everything coming together superbly well; the little guitar touches are on point, the bass is bubbly and heavy, the main melody is a chopped up set of notes that works super well, and Sharma’s vocals are emo and not supposed to sit well here but end up doing so somehow. ‘Toast Of The Town’ is a weird track that might not sound great on first listen but starts to get a bit more accessible with more plays. The guitar riff is heavy as heck and the four-on-the-floor drums provide a nice contrast, but the vocal tone is pretty jarring from the get-go. It doesn’t really mesh with everything else as well as other tracks on here. But it does start to smooth out after a point and little subtleties like the funky little rhythm guitars eventually come out.

 


At the end of the day, the fact that Fuzzculture is ready to commit to having genres and styles just crash head-on into each other is commendable; that takes guts and a level trust in oneself. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work at all and sometimes it does. But you can’t deny the effort.

 

Listen to Escape To Where You're Wanted

 

 

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