Cruelty to animals AND ears. A right twofer...
Surprisingly enough I have a lot of time for fear 2 Stop because they have proved - beyond all shadow of a doubt - that they will do it their way and the rest of us can go hang. I like that attitude, even though some of their tracks leave me more than a tad baffled. Over the years I have grown extremely used to their approach, and the experience has taught the band how to meld the sound to fit their own peculiar vision. About a year or so ago now, I started to notice an increasing effectiveness in their production standards which actually helped (enormously) to put their idiosyncratic style over, and its bought into play on Herbal Coffee to great effect.
The track itself is pretty much what you would expect from Fear 2 Stop, solid bass and drums underpinning the seemingly chaotic and random sounds happening above it. More surprising is that Herbal Coffee actually sounds much more normal a track than any F2S track over the last year, it even has melody and - dare I say it? - an understated funk feel that is something I never expected to write about this band. Its a given that the many people that, like me, have become fans of this band over the years will like this track because it does embody exactly what Fear 2 Stop are all about. If this is a new name to you, its probably best to warn you that they are somewhat of an acquired taste. Herbal, yes, but it ain't coffee...
Highly Recommended zippy Electronica.
It's a racing certainty that some people will think me deaf upon discovering that Fear 2 Stop inhabit an increasingly strange aural world and no doubt some will think me certifiably insane for liking such 'rubbish'. Me? I say **** em. There again, faced with five minutes facing up to barbecuing cute little furry critters doesn't exactly blow up my skirts either. One of the things that has become prominent in Fear 2 Stop's style over the last couple of years is their reliance on a solid rhythm and that - for my money - is where they really score and make tracks that appeal to a much wider audience.
Musically this is way up there with some of this bands best works, although your definition of music would have to be well stretched to fit this into that category. See, I've had a relev...rever....revemmm vision thingie. The reason its always hard to define Fear 2 Stop's music is that it is basically made of layered noises, occasionally propelled by said deft rhythm accompaniment - all done in analog stylee. When it works it's knockout and when it doesn't it's just baffling. In the case of tonight's menu of rabbit barBQ, the music track works - and indeed so does the vocal(?), but in differing ways. Shows that the band retains a nice bright flame of originality at least and, at least to my ears, is one of the most accessible F2S tracks in a good while. Bring your own sauce.
Original LOL experimental. Highly Recommended (even for vegetarians)
God bless Fear 2 Stop. I've spent so much time and effort with these guys and despite me feeling really good at their new found musical maturity, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Most dedicated fear 2 Stop watchers will be only to well aware of their propensity to aurally noodle (ie wander around aimlessly, playing with some really strange sounds. It's only the last year or so that their music has developed the muscle we have - to our delight and amazement I might add - heard in tracks such as Drawn, the awesome Dishevelled, Giving In and loads of others in a slightly weirder vein. It's almost as if, over the years, their music has grown from a fairly amorphous experimental hodge-podge to a sleek, often highly efficent way of getting their particular musical point of view across.
Think folks, we saw this band's music grow a backbone! Shocked
And what a fekkin backbone it's proving to be. Although I find The Napkin Fairy slightly less urgent than their better works of late, there is still power going on behind the usual F2S bleepishness and - for my money - that is what is making their music so attractive to many people who had written them off as just another experimental band. I personally think they more than 'paid their dues' as it were, and I think it's high time that people started to realise that - like a lot of other experimental artists - they have developed a musical voice that reaches way beyond experimental. Having said that, there's a lot more on this track that is experimental in sound and fury and I think that fact alone may limit this tracks appeal.
The most immediate reference that sprang into my mind was of New Order's Blue Monday. That's because there is a marked similarity in the basic instrumentation, but that's as far as that particular theory. Once you are over that 'heard it before' feeling you will realise that in total this is nothing like the aforementioned reference and could only have come from from F2S. It's as if they took one single riff from that track, and diverged as much as possible from it before the track runs out of time. You'll probably have to give it a bit of airplay to really get into it, it's a bit odd at first but soon (probably when the madness sets in) it all sounds as if Fear 2 Stop have no intention whatsoever in dropping a musical bollock at this stage in time. Strangely enough, this and a couple of the other tracks I have mentioned lead me to surmise that this stuff would probably sound much better in a live situation because it's made B-I-G. btw, there is a bit of a overhang in the version that I have, leaving a weird cutoff right at the end of the track. Easily remedied.
Highly Recommended meaty electronica with that distinctive F2S twist.
Lot of eyeballs on Fear 2 Stop right now, mainly because of their excellent turnaround that saw 2006 being one of their best ever years on Soundclick - at least where this reviewer is concerned. Mind you, I can see by the increased turnover on the Fear 2 Stop Soundclick webapge that something is definitely happening for them, as well it should. The way Fear 2 Stop have captured their own little share of the online world is a lesson in how to make this scene work for you. After years of crap about their music, they finally honed their very own sound - and if you think you like experimental then Fear 2 Stop are right up there with the best of them; think the Fall mixed up with Throbbing Gristle and a rhythm section that has links to Joy Division.
Except, being Americans and not whiny brits, there is a distinct lack of angst. Which is a good thing. Definitely.
I think the turnaround came for them when they discovered the beats and rhythms that actually fitted their tracks rather than just kinda slung on there to make some sort of sense of it. For me, the puny rhythm sound they had going for them in some of their earlier tracks was what caused them most grief and - over the last year or so - they have solved that dilemma forever. If you have any doubts about this bold statement then I direct you to a play of Givin' In as a prime example of where Fear 2 Stop are today.
There is still that extreme oddity that can only come from the mind Castillo, but now it's chained to an (almost) rock solid backing track that gives impetus and meaning to their music. The first few bars will show exactly what I mean and the echoed, detuned piano hits that introduce this peice will either give you nightmares for a week or make you go 'that's neat...' which was my reaction. Although nothing like as accessible as some of last years highlights, I rather took to Givin' In as an experimental track - although it certainly has its dancy side and its this combination that ultimately puts it over the top. A track from the upcoming Fear 2 Stop album How High Are You, this bodes well for 2007 being an even better year for this most interesing of bands.
Another MUST HAVE for F2S fans and a Highly Recommended for anyone else's taste.
I think I said much the same thing on those occasions too.
Mind you, given the hefty set of musical bollocks this Texas band has developed over the past year or so, this may be something else I may have to change my mind about. According to the song blurb this is 'heavily influenced by late-60s movie soundtracks' which makes all I wrote above sci-fi nerdtwaddle totally redundant (Ed: Oh? There's a thing eh?) but all the nitpicking aside, it's the music which either does it or not. Or, much more to the point, can Fear 2 Stop sustain their incredible run of great tracks that typified much of the year just gone. Although I have to admit that some of the sounds - on first listening anyway - bothered me a bit but sustained exposure soon wore off the rough edges. Although it's considerably less immediate as some of last year's highlights, the production standard that powered last years track is now undoubtedly a F2S staple.
Musically, I think this has more to do with the older version of Fear 2 Stop that most of struggled with and is - essentially - an exercise in the use of rhythms. There isn't the solidness that tracks like Dishevelled delivered but I suspect that is down to the complexity of the rhythms being used. Not that the arrangement is complex, just the layering that the band have used to create that 'chase scene' scenario it is supposed to represent. For a Fear 2 Stop fan this will soon join its bredden on your hard drive, and may be sufficiently worthy enough to gather yet more fans but what it isn't is on a par with the very best last year provided from this outfit - and therein lies the problem with relative success. You are always going to be judged by it. Mind you, seeing as this is already #1 on the electronica:experimental sounds and the band has the kind of numbers in terms of plays and stations playing that would make lesser mortals weep, Fear 2 Stop can afford the odd oddity. And this is it.
Recommended Experimental electronica.
Despite their years of wanderinng in the experimental wildernesses, Fear 2 Stop have always had their heart and soul planted firmly in the soil of electronica and it's the marriage of both styles that has given them their well deserved praise. With the last sentence reverberating through your skull, take a quick listen to From The Deep and you'll get a very swift idea of how powerful this can be. While I also like my music to have a touch of the wild child about it, I do much prefer that it has a point for noise, dissonance or whatever else passes (in lesser circles) for something experimental in your track and at least F2S have always used such devices accurately and sparingly.
As well as coming across with a bunch of good track this year, the consistency of those track just keeps getting better and better. There's a Public Image reference here for sure, and even more for bands like The Fall, Joy Division et al because that mileu is where Fear 2 Stop really belong these days. Musically if not geographically, this is UK gloom rock taken to the dance floor and stomped into the ground with extreme predjudice. Out of all the tracks delivered to my hard drive this year from this source, all have contained some hefty rhythmic ideas, some excellent blending of styles and enough energy and drive to power a small planet and From The Deep is no exception. It might seem a little lo-key when you first hear it but don't be decieved, there is a beast lurking underneath.
Highly Recommended blend of experimental and electronica.
That can only be a good thing.
I was re-reading some of my earlier (ie a couple of years ago) reviews of F2S and boy were they harsh. Out of all the artists I have ever reviewed, these people tested me most in their search for - as it turns out - their own musical voice. If all that has come my way from this quarter this year then they may well have stepped up to bat in a big way. They have gained a string of recommendeds from me this year, and consistently too, an attribute they have also gained along the way. Oh, don't get me wrong, they are still marvellously mad as hatters (sonically speaking) but they have acquired a muscle and maturity that I'm certain will floor a lot of people who just thought Fear 2 Stop was just a - and I quote - 'musical joke' Well, I'd say this track was the punchline that that comment, and I couldn't think of a better riposte.
Along with all the other massive strides the band have been making is a much more intense, concentrated feel to the way the music is presented. Giving a track like Dishevelment a punch and authority that may well finally break them of that reputation for being difficult to listen to. Dishevelment is a distinct pleasure to listen to and I intend to listen to it a great deal more because its certainly IMHO this bands finest hour. That feeling may well have to do with the personal satisfaction at seeing them 'come good' as it were, and it will have a great deal to do with their increased use of very viable, flowing musical structures. Got to tell you, I love the drums on this... That's my kinda pounding. Weirdest thing of all? This track plasters a great big s***kicking grin on my face, I'd say that was high praise indeed.
Must Have for Fear 2 Stop fans, and a Highly Recommended to all others. Ace track.
One of THE major surprises this year has been the string of Fear 2 Stop tracks that have found favour with me. Considering that almost every month over the past couple of years I have wrestled with the 800lb gorilla that is their music, and usually lost badly. To get the kind of result over the last three or so tracks has been one of my personal highpoints of this year and something that came right out of left field - in more ways than one. Being extremely experimental, of course, was one of the major drawbacks for me in previous material but these later tracks are even - dare I say it - almost commercial.
Aye. Good grief indeed.
Although a new track, hence the meatiness of the sounds, Slay Ride (billed as 'Santa on Ecstasy') is very much a return to the chaotic, convoluted pastures they have made their own. Featuring the vaguest snatches of Christmas carols amongst the out and out electronica that makes up the bulk of this track. Again it displays the surprising maturity this band (Dana Castillo - bass/percussion/drums/snoring, Raymond Proseus - synth/bass/vocals/drum machine and Billy Castillo - synth/bass/vocals/drums machine) has displayed of late which means that despite it's dense, disjointed nature there is still plenty that strikes the right chord.
It goes without saying that you will need a strong musical stomach to like Fear 2 Stop, although they are making it a whole lot easier than it has been heretofore (great word eh?). Nonetheless if you want your electronica to dance on the edge of madness then Fear 2 Stop provide a very decent example of it in every way. You can gawp at the sounds, admire the vortex that is the arrangement, and generally just groove off to another planet on the strength of this ride. Moreover, I HATE (as in grrrr grrrr) Christmas carols with a vengence but when ya dice and slice 'em the way Fear 2 Stop have served up here you may very well find them as tasty as I did.
Recommended for the innovative use of the Xmas theme.
Don't know what it is with Fear 2 Stop just lately because - after a lifetime of whinging and moaning from yours truly - they have hit the right spot three times in a row. Seriously, Billy, Dana and Raymond (aka F2S) have had the most reviews of anyone on Soundclick and very few of them were complimentary. I musta kicked these guys butts into eight million different shapes by now and then - all of a sudden - bam, bam, bam... Instellar Bounce (March 2006), Drawn (April 2006) and Enter the Eclipse (2005 remix) (May 2006) have all been undeniably Fear 2 Stop tracks but with an essential difference.
These are accessible tracks, and very listener friendly...
I never thought I would ever write THAT about Fear 2 Stop's music. Not sure what is contributing to this upsurge in their musical reach but I'm all for it. Take Jackin for example. Anyone who heard F2S a couple of years ago would be absolutely floored to hear that this track was by the same group. Having said that, they have also managed to retain that edge of extreme weirdness that has so characterised their work so - at this stage - I'd have to say that F2S have definitely turned a corner. See Jackin is also a track with much to commend it and even though there is a noticeable hiss on the track, its nothing compared to some of the aural nightmares this artist has thrown at us over the years.
Weighing it at an easily assimilated two and a half minutes, the track is big; both in terms of sounds and arrangement. F2S say about this track that 'F2S go down to the 'hood and get down with the homies, as only we can' and I'd have to say that is a pretty good description. While it's certainly not hip hop in the strictest sense, it definitely has a scuzzy, big city feel about it; along with the usual wild s*** that is the Fear 2 Stop raison d'etre. I must say it is nice to sit here and finally be complimentary about Fear 2 Stop because they have worked long and hard at establishing what THEY want and now they seem to have it. Admittedly Jackin isn't going to be to everyone's taste but I like it and that is something that makes me feel good today.
Excellent experimental electronica with that special F2S touch.
See, I'm a great believer in 'doin' it fo' yo'self' and having a unique (or as close to it as possible) sound and style, and Fear 2 Stop does score highly on that. They haven't done as well in my musical critiques though, but they keep on rolling along - and that can only be a good thing. Taking criticism is hard - as I know to my own cost - and the ability to take it onboard then move on is to be valued. Only an opinion, after all. The one word best used to describe what F2S come up with is 'strange'. Sometimes it connects with me, others it doesn't but judging from reactions to their tracks over the years there IS an audience for what Fear 2 Stop do and that's another good thing.
We need all the strangeness we can get in the Clone Age.
Enter the Eclipse (2005 remix) is exactly what you should expect from this highly individualistic trio; the track certainly hangs together right enough and indeed has a certain charm. This is - as always - offset by the particular musical insanity F2S always delivers. Your mind veers between 'hey this is really neat' to 'surely they shouldn't be doing that in public' as if it were a pinball game, and therein lies the beauty of this band for me. The music you hear isn't (I guarantee you) like anything else you may here, the ears question constantly the oddity of music that shouldn't be doing what it does, but does it anyway. In some ways, this is constructed as if it were a video game track, as is most of the instrumentation; there's even a jaunty 'Hi I'm some silly animal-thing' feel about it that - to me - only emphasises it's charm. A nice, clear production on this too...thumbs up. Odd. I have to agree. Somehow charming though, and to my ears one of the better F2S tracks I've heard. And so....
Highly Recommended for the strange at heart.
My bitching and moaning about Fear 2 Stop is legendary usually about their 'bizarre experimental electronica' - their words, not mine - and occasionally about the sounds they use. Since I first came across them with Science Friction (January 2004) they have both infuriated me and - again occasionally - completely surprised me. By now, Billy and Dana Castillo and Raymond Proseus, must have grown calluses in their eyeballs the amount of crap I've given them over this time. I'm sure they also understand the reasons I have dumped on them so often, and I guess that's just me being the usual picky Nicky, and them getting in the firing line. By far the overwhelming thing I am looking for in almost everything I listen to is impact, drama and music with a sense of itself.
Music with it's own, unique voice. Now there's a thing.
I'd be willing to bet that right now there are some held breath's and 'I can't look, tell me!' comments over at the F2S ganghut, so let's be quick about it. You got two versions of Drawn to play around with; the original (which I link above) and the 'alternate' mix version where - apparently - noise reduction was used to reduce hiss. WTF??? Fear 2 Stop worried about noise and hiss? Kerrec' me if I'm wrong but I thought that was their whole song and dance. Mind you, to muddy the waters even further there is an 8 bit version mix that is 'just for fun' too and THAT is definitely pure Fear 2 Stop. I joke, of course, and I'll get to the point right now. The reason I link the original track in this review is because - OK hold your eyeballs in, just in case - Drawn has (gulp) impact, drama and music with a special voice.
Deja vu all over again eh? ;
I NEVER thought I'd get to write this about this band and I'm really pleased I've been disciplined properly about judging people. Despite the obvious hiss, which in this case I find really fits the track - there isn't really anything else I'd want to touch about this track. It's simple, fairly lo-fi and as catchy as avian flu (aah, poor birdies). Being a father myself, I am not going to go into the reasoning behind the track's existence, but essentially a grim affair. The music doesn't give quite the doomy feel you would associate with the event (the loss of an unborn child) but was made in 2004 when this occured. I don't think I heard the original at the time and this is obviously a remix, and what a remix. Fear 2 Stop have pitched this one just right and I have no hesitation whatsoever in urging you to have a listen - a very worthwhile track indeed. Especially if you like what Fear 2 Stop have been doing over the past 2 years, this will come as a very, very welcome addition to your 'this is all mad stuff' folder.
Excellent electronica, with that personal touch. Big thumbs up.
Having borne the brunt of acres of bad comments from me, F2S show incredible resilience (yeah, stubborness too) but - bless 'em - they keep ploughing their own particular musical furrow and there's nothing wrong with that. The latest track, Interstellar Bounce, is a revamped track from their past (a distant past at that) and to get the full story I have to go back in that history too. IB started as a section of a track called Battle Sequence which - as you can imagine - is a kinda/sorta game soundtrack that works surprisingly well, given that's it an older F2S track originally written in 1989. Instellar Bounce is the revamped later section of that work, and given my antipathy towards this kind of electronic experimentalism, I found myself quite taken by the track.
OK, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now...
Moreover, Instellar Bounce shows an increasing sophistication in sound techniques which I feel will help F2S enormously to overcome the dreadful image some of their past tracks have conjured up for many of us. The really weird thing is that I don't dislike this band, in fact I admire their persistence in the face of my many doubts. Mind you, we've also been here before too, when I think they are about to make a breakthrough only discover them going back to the same aural traps with the next track. Nonetheless, there's a quality about this track that I do like (besides it's incredibly short 3:37 length), there is a bounce to the track that I feel will earn F2S a bit more kudos than is normally evident. Certainly the band have some die hard fans who do seem to like whatever they put up despite my constant and never ending grumbles. Well, here is one track I cannot find much to grumble about at all, and that is definitely a step in the right direction.
Surprisingly accessible electronica with a definite bounce...
The overwhelming area of criticism has always been in production and instrumentation sounds and although the production has improved enormously over the past year or so, I still felt obliged to get serious about the last track I reviewed - and in much the same area too. A Moment Of Truth is an older track (first uploaded in December 2003) and it's surprising that I haven't heard it until now... Funnily enough, it's a very listenable track without too much of the usual F2S weirdnesses creeping in to gum up the works. Although I put that down to it's shortness as much as its general tone, there is a lot to be said for this track and it's odd 'soundtrack' quality.
Billy - and fellow bandmates wife Dana and friend Raymond Proseus - have a tendency to use lots of string sounds and - as is shown in this example - hammered and/or plucked sounds. Not that there is anything wrong with these sounds, used in the right context, and often it can be the making or breaking of the track. However, here is a Fear 2 Stop track that definitely hangs together in its own right, none of the instruments try to take over the whole show and it's even got a halfway decent melody development to it. It's also surprisingly listenable too, which is not something I have have been able to say too much about this band, so it makes a change to be less of a butt muncher than normal. F2S are presently working on some new material - as if the 109 tracks on their page is not enough - and I look forweard to hearing what new directions they will go in over the next few months. However, if you want an example of what F2S do, I'd say this track was a good a starting place as any.
posted by Steve Gilmore Reviews... @ 5:57 PM
However, I decided when I relaxed the above rule, that I would be a damn sight harder on those artists who consistently pop up in my review signups. My first taste of this was my double header last month where I reviewed a Billy Castillo solo peice and Nebula2K5 from the aforementioned F2S. I laid into those two track with glee thinking that I would find something there to piss and moan about but surprisingly enough I found that both tracks had that something extra going for it that precluded a public reaming out. Nebula2K5 in particular was a distinct change from previous F2S tracks insofar as it held a fairly recognisable structure and instrumentation and it was - for this band anyway - an accessible and even likeable track. So, maybe this month I may fare better and as I first started to listen to Shame my mind was full of barbed putdowns and wicked jibes... About the worst thing that I could say about Shame though is that the production is hissy and as rough as any other F2S track.
It's also a direct step on from Nebula insofar as it explores a much more commercial vein than anything this artist had worked in before. In fact, in the blurb for the track they state 'I can picture someone trying to rap over this' so that should give you some idea what kind of electronica we are talking about. Personally, I can't see the rapper angle but I was ever the philistine about these things. What I can see is that F2S have tempered their wilder side by a great degree and are now - if this is any indication - heading back towards a more mainstream sound and one that will, I believe, finally pay off for them. See ultimately F2S will always be the F2S I have struggled with over the past couple of years; often cantankerous to a fault, irritating, infuriating and challenging to the same degree. All of which they have brought into this new direction of theirs but with some substantial lessening of the more 'extreme' forms they have experimented with in the past. In many ways they remind me of a UK band called The Fall. At first they met with almost total puzzlement from their intended audience but slowly - and with a lot of hard work clueing up their audience - gained a substantial following and are now considered one of the worlds foremost 'left field bands' As always, I feel that the liking of what a band does is highly personal and I freely admit that I have had a hard time in the past, but I DO like this new direction quite a lot, although I still believe they need to tighten up their production standards considerably before they can reach that wider audience I feel they are now aiming for.
Sounds Like: A Radiohead ( Specifically "Amnesiac" ) B-Side.
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars.
Final Comment: It's a unique track, most definately. The fact that it doesn't stick to a melody and kinda jumps all over the place will keep it a "decent" track rather than "great". Still, good work.
One of the most prolific artists of Soundclick's 'awkward' squad, F2S is definitely going to be a taste you either like or not. Black and white. Yes or no. I say awkward because there is no doubt that the bulk of Fear 2 Stop's work has been in the experimental and/or electronica fields and although I have a fair degree of tolerance for all things 'experimental' even I have my limits. Which is why, in the year or so I have been reviewing this artist, I have found very little I wanted to keep around. Of course a lot of that is down to personal taste and - on the surface of it - F2S don't seem to suffer any from it. AFAIK they have a growing, appreciative audience who DO like what they do - and who could want for more?
I reviewed Captured in June and - to my ears - it really delivered the one thing that was always missing from F2S for this reviewer; a credible sound. No matter what I may have thought about previous Fear 2 Stop tracks it was always coloured by a recurring production fault. Captured finally nailed the truth on that, and I must admit I approached this track with some trepidation that the work on Captured was a one-off. I'm really happy to say that it doesn't seem to be and - in all truth - Broke is not only a good sound but it's also one of the most interesting tracks I have ever heard from this artist.
Although I had some initial misgivings about the tuning of some things, there does seem to be some balance to this aural oddity the more the track becomes familiar. Like a lot of their tracks it will take some time to prise this out of it's shell but it is soooo worth it. From the little instrumental breaks, to the understated feel of the peice this track has a lot going for it. It's obvious to this reviewer that somewhere lately, F2S have turned a musical corner and become - at least to my ears - much more accessible than previously and that can be no bad thing. Although I wouldn't go so far as to say this track is not without fault, it has a sense of itself and it's lopsided, anarchic rhythms that just plain grows on you.
It has to be said that generally, whatever my personal liking for the track is, that F2S tracks are usually marred by two things; poor instrumentation and inadequate production. There have been many F2S tracks I have taken to because of that willingness to be different, but that doesn't always work - unless the music manages to hang together too. In that respect, Fear 2 Stop have been more hit than miss but - more power to them - it isn't likely to deter them.
Funnily enough, in all honesty, the first thing I can say about Captured is that it is - by far - the best sounding Fear 2 Stop track I have heard yet. It's full spectrum sound is not something I would have associated with this artist before and it comes as a very welcome surprise. Essentially, Captured is a fairly conventional electronica instrumental, and then F2S completely alter everything in sight which, for them, is absolutely par for the course. I can't swear on a pile of Bibles that I am keen on either the tom hits, or their placing but fuggit whaddu I know? With it's enhanced sound and, for them anyway, semi-normal structure, I'd say Captured is one of F2S's better tracks.
Strange one, this one. Maybe best described as a slightly upbeat piece of ambient jazz electronica. Short and quirky, the bass (bass synth) lead is definitely the instrument to follow. I have been intrigued by F2S’ work in the past, but this is the first one to really capture my taste in music fully. This is a very catchy number, and I guarantee that bass line will be running around yer brain for days.
A comparatively older track this time from Fear 2 Stop and I for one have no problem with that. It's amazing that so many artists are only heard when they have a new track out, rather than for their extensive back catalog. I often get plays from the top of my page but rarely get plays from those tracks nearer the bottom Who knows why. I have been known to regurgitate by way of remastering and/or remixing my older tracks because it often gives them a new lease of life as I've just discovered when I released a remix version of 2002's Great Game...
Ah but that's me, I'm like that.
Fear 2 Stop have the princely sum of 84 tracks on their webpage so their back catalog is definitely more extensive than most. Also it would probably help if your musical preferences tended towards the more experimental side of the musical spectra. Fear 2 Stop always but always either do it for me or they haven't. Nonetheless, they still have a fair batting average because there are a great many of their tracks I have found listening room for, oddities maybe but hey.... Despite 2004 being peppered with F2S tracks I only managed to like one as a keeper, and that was a distinctly un-F2S sounding track Critical Condition. Having said ALL that, Fear 2 Stop have a growing coterie of fans and admirers so wtf do these opinions matter anyway?
The tagline for Octopus Inc on the site states: 'picture an octopus dancing while listening' and despite everything I failed to see one of those. Mind you I did see all manner of other beasties and electronic silliness in this very engaging and likeable track. As weird as F2S material is, and this one is no exception, there is a charm and vitality about this track I warmed to from the beginning. I think is partly fueled by that careening, out of order calliope sound that is the tracks main instrument, to me it just sounded so damn right - especially against that driving backing track. A word of caution though, you will need your weird ears on for this little clockwork beauty.
Weird and surprisingly wonderful.
Within Terror: The intro was like whipping water around your head... yeah... I know... hard to imagine, isn't it. Well so was this piece... it was simply hard to imagine. Where is Pilesar when I need him? There are so many things going on here that I give you Thumbs up up just for the sheer audacity of it, as well as a "HOT" vote, as it depicts everything needed for the genre "experimental." This is the weirdest of the three, and most complex in arrangement. The mix is great, and if I was a person to actually enjoy this kind of music, I would have it strapped to my hip to listen to all hours of the day. Outstanding!
Thumbs up Thumbs up
On the CD I burned to listen to this track it was backed up against Station For Imitation's Clear Sky At Night. Bit fortuitous really because they fit together really well, both in feel and in genre. Both artists are in the odd category of electronica, and both artists tracks demand that not only do you listen but you pay close attention. Otherwise, as my wife so kindly points out, you'd end up as confused as you begun.
Well, no surprise there then...
Battle Fog is that rare Fear 2 Stop track, accessible. Yep, a track that can be grasped by more people than us tardy Few! Seems like F2S have been going through a bit of technical revolution lately because their tracks are - to me - sounding better and better mixwise. Although there's some considerable background hiss on this track it in no way detracts from the power and complexity of the music it encases.
As usual, when reviewing such artists, I use the term music advisedly. I've got into waaay too many flamewars about what constitutes 'crap' and what doesn't. It would be even better if we don't open the can of worms that goes 'is this good music or bad music?'. Truth is, it's just music. You either like it or you don't. Admittedly bands like Fear 2 Stop push mightily against the boundary between music and chaos (or between music and noise depending on your stance) but for me, that's a big plus and it always has been. When I finally came to a conclusion about Battle Fog, I liked it a lot more than most tracks of its genre although I thought the drums at the intro could have been made more of. Nonetheless, this is a quaint, odd little track that has a momentum of its own; all told I enjoyed listening to it even if I wasn't going to keep it. That, believe it or not, is a compliment.
Soundclick * Rebel Riffs * Vitamin C * Acid Planet
Artist: Fear 2 Stop
I really liked the Fear 2 Stop (F2S) track Critical Condition that I reviewed last month but that is not always the way it goes with F2S tracks. It's always been a bit of a roller coaster with this outfit as they veer between different styles. I'm all for a sense of uniqueness, strangeness and charm but sometimes even I stumble over some of their tracks. OK, so now we've got the 'not easy listening' clause out of the way, we can finally take a look at Wanderlust.
At base, Wanderlust is a piano piece, plain and simple. That same piano piece is reintroduced in different formats through the track according to what extra instrumentation happens to be playing at that time. It helps enormously that the piano piece in question just happens to be a starkly odd, but infinitely rewarding progression. The full effect of this is seen in the 1:16 intro which consists of the progression alone; with some built in bank changes along the way. I'd say if you liked this intro as much as I did, it's an even bet that you'll probably like the rest of it too.
Part two of the track occurs around 1:20 aided by a conveniently placed atomic explosion (yep, I DID write that, and yes I know setting off nuclear explosives is naughty). This next section sees the introduction of a funk bassline and some very propulsive tom sounds; it stands to reason that the piano still takes centre stage. There are minor variations in the theme but essentially that's it. A simple, elegant design in sound that - despite its whimsical tone - really gets under your skin. Very nice indeed.
Soundclick * Rebel Riffs * Vitamin C * Acid Planet
X Hard to classify (Maybe a good thing)
Experimental and very original.
X Good music in verses
X Good music in chorus
X Memorable Hook
As experimental as this track is, it has a real melody and some counter melodies, quite good. The little sound samples are cool!
X Well-written structure
X Good sectional contrast
Good structure, seems like experimental music is usually missing structure but this is well written.
X Good title
Good as any!
Wow is all I can say, when listening to Robotico Simpatico by Fear 2 Stop, I can not say whether I like the track as a whole or not. But I will say this, for experimental electronica this is very well thought out and the structure is very good. Though somewhat bizarre as forewarned by Fear 2 Stop himself the melody is very catchy and will stick in your head, the counter melody is functional and plays a huge roll in the track. There is also some real nice samples in this piece as well that will keep you on your toes. If you like experimental music or are just looking for something to freshen your musical senses this track will do the trick. Check it out!
Thanks for sharing,
The one charge that absolutely cannot be leved at Fear 2 Stop is that they are lazy. Not only does Billy of F2S do reviews on a regular basis, they usually manage to spit out one track a month for me to struggle over too!! Seriously, doing a review for Fear 2 Stop is always a stretching exercise; after all, confusion is their game and it works - sometimes too well.
Critical Condition, I found out to my great releif, isn't one of their more obscure tracks. Matter of fact, it's almost too 'normal' for them. In case you are not aware of the charms of F2S, they deal mainly in electronica, leavened with huge dollops of Chaos Theory. Mind you they have hit the spot once or twice for me, and that says something and - with Critical Condition - they have hit the spot again.
Mind you it took me several plays to get to the point of actually liking it. My inital impression was favourable but it didn't really start to flex its muscles until I got used to its inital strangeness. Most of that feeling comes from the chord progressions because the beat is pretty much on the money, creating an oddly syncopated rhythm that sets you up a treat. The more I heard this the more I began to appreciate how well this dealt with the differing moods and styles that make up this strangely commercial track. Certainly one of F2S's better tracks in my opinion and one I'll be hanging onto for that wild time between 2AM and dawn when anything slightly out of the norm can be appreciated best. All this and it's gonna be a pretty good party track too.
Oh mi God. F2S go commercial??? Naaaahhhhh....
Robotico Sympatico: i liked this track alot. it reminds me of a more industrial Takako Minekawa. i can definitely hear the J-pop influence on this one. the drum machine work is well done and i like the vocal manipulation around the 1-minute mark.
The Souless: another good track. lots of tempo shifts and crossfades but it all comes back to the main theme. it doesn't wander off as much as it first appears.
Kitten Pause: i enjoyed this track too. the pizzicato strings are a nice touch and it sounds like you used a real bass guitar in this one.
based on the three tracks i heard, my only comment would be let's hear some more organic instrumentation. while i enjoy the setup you're working with, i think it would be nice if you augmented it with some more earthy sounds. maybe some more noisy ambience in the background (i.e., the vocal stuff in Robotico Sympatico) or some toy instruments (toy piano, drumset, shakers, etc.). i just really like to hear the two worlds (digital and organic) work in tandem. it builds a nice juxtaposition and interesting tension. perhaps you already do this, but like i said, i'm basing these comments solely on the three tracks you submitted.
overall, this is nice work. i'm a big fan of unconventional song structures so i can appreciate what you're trying to do. when i have more time to spend on your page, i'll be back for more .
thanks for your submission!
Billy, Raymond and Dana are Fear 2 Stop they were formed in 2001 and they have a knack for the unusual, they compose electronica pieces and having released ,on their own, countless Cds they come to us via the internet from Houston, TX.
Wherein lies the edge, we have a group of people here who all contribute to their craft, three very capable musicians with different ideas yet one common focus….creating music!
They joined the SoundClick forums in Aug of 2003 and have made a positive contribution here in this community……
First let me give you a list of their influences; Brian Wilson, Marilyn Manson, Nobuo Uematsu, Rammstein, Primus, and Pink Floyd…eclectic indeed…..
Experimental Sounds/ Electronica
This piece starts off with a fade in of eerie synth pads that immediately conjure up thoughts of shadows lurking in the midst of darkness if that makes any sense. The low end ,which mind you is real hard to keep clean (especially with synths), is simply gut wrenching……great job there, and the drums although sparse, suit the piece well adding to the mystery and drama.
Just for the sake of a comparison, this composition, this piece brings to mind Brian Eno and Devo’s earlier obscure stuff meets Portishead without vocals…..Is that possible?
Very well done and the length of the piece is just right to sustain the listeners attention!
Which bring us to a few little bones……
I say the length is just right at 3:19 because there isn’t a whole lot of movement in this piece, so that being said, tis good at a short just over 3 mins…..
The recording is plagued with a inordinate amount of hiss, this being in the equipment itself or the processing gear used……
It would be advantageous to peruse cleaning the hiss out of the individual tracks especially since there are fade in and fade outs in this piece. The hiss overpowers the quieter portions of the piece…..
Overall on the # scale I give this a strong high 7 because of the overall feel…I like it!
There are some really nice effects in this tune, adding to the percussion portion in a good way. The whole tune is somewhat mysterious. The main synth that sounds like an electronic accordion seems to fit right in - in a strange way.
The ending is well conceived. Not a bad piece at all. Not going crazy about it, but I like it overall. It’s different and I like different. That’s just me!
Artist: Fear 2 Stop
Title: Unbroken Static
On reflection I think I've probably had a on again/off again time with the redoubtable Fear 2 Stop.
Sometimes, to be honest, they just plain baffle me and sometimes they amaze me and that - I guess - is a kind of compliment. Unlike their close compardres in chordal chaotica, F2S often have a much harder edge, their music often takes a lot of work to understand and/or like. The one thing that they can be counted on to deliver - every time - is a challenge.
Unbroken Static turns out to be a piece of standard (well, for Fear 2 Stop anyway) electronica once you get past the soundscapeish intro. An intro that probably could cause seasickness too, I might add so be warned and pack an extra sick bag. With shades of past electronica artists (think early '80's oddities) Unbroken Static will probably turn out to be one of F2S's better - ie more accessible - tracks because over the time I spent with this strange fruit, I came to like its spare little arrangement and the general flow of the piece.
However, let me add a caveat to all this. Fear 2 Stop are not for the more 'normal' listeners out there, in fact it's taken me a good while to really warm to them. I have to give them the nod though for sheer nerve sometimes. Unbroken Static, however, is just enough 'normal' to pass muster and I think F2S will find that they will gain some new listeners for their own very indivualistic style. If you like any of the European pioneers of the electronica genre then you will definitely find lots to feast on here.
Song: 4-Cylinder Wet Dream
Genre: Electronica -> Breakbeat
These 3:21 minute tune starts of screaming!!! I mean that in a good way!!! The effects used here along side the great drums sound great – like a distorted guitar… good job in mixing this one in. I am impressed with this particular device – way to go!
I love the drum sequences in this one, although, they could use just a but more treble. But, that’s just my personal taste. The way the drums are panned from left to right at certain sequences of the song is just great! The bass is not spectacular, but, it certainly does the job. Accompanied by some great effects, this tune is actually the first tune (our of 3 that I reviewd for F2S) that I enjoy from the first to the last second.
Why? There’s a lot of musical creativity to be heard in this one! As far as I am concerned (and I have not listened to all the tracks from this artist), this one is the best I’ve heard so far. It keeps moving and is ever-changing. It will keep your interest – no doubt!
Fear 2 Stop: you did an excellent job on this one and I love the voice sample at the end!!! Great piece of Breakbeat music!!!
After reviewing F2S's Arcade Blooze last month - a track where they reconstructed musical ghosts from the past - and now this, I'm fast coming to the realisation that there is great deal more to F2S than first meets the eye. Or, translated into normal language, these people are getting stranger with each hearing. Now some of us loikes a little strange and I'm one of those BUT (and that's obviously a big butt) I would never profess to actually understanding it. What I go by when I am listening to the more esoteric artists amongst us is my gut feel about the track, what references it has for me and so on.
There are a great many people who get hives just looking at the word 'experimental' so to those poor lambs I'd say its best to stay away from this track. A track like this can ONLY be described as such because it is - well, not normal. I mean there's a high piano murmering steel spikes into your ears, theres a squad of Kodo drummers hammering at the door and all manner of bleeps and whizzes - and that's just in the first minute or so.
I'm under the impression that Path Of Destruction is in fact an old track (ie made and released some time ago) but it still stands up well and despite my description is a nifty enough arrangement to just about coast by. The more time I spent listening to it, however, the more I started to get the tracks inner structure the more I started to understand where it was going. A very clever and complicated track that definitely should not be judged by something as trifling as a genre. T'ain't a genre, it's a puzzle; the more you work at it, the clearer it becomes.
This begins with an intriguing set of drum beats and bass lines and strangely enough, it all sounds like it was recorded live – maybe it was, who knows? There are a few odd and strange sections within this track that made me very curious.
I don’t really know what style this is since it isn’t really your typical style of Electronica. The beats are well produced and the mixing job is well done. But there was something about this that I couldn’t quite lay my finger on – I think what it could possibly be is the oddness of some of the sections. To me it doesn’t really feel like it flows along smoothly – that’s not to say it’s clumsy as it does sound very well produced, but it contains a very strange setting and rhythm that, the more I listened to, the more I found myself actually starting to enjoy it.
I think this track mainly comes under the ‘it’ll grow on you’ category. Initially I did think ‘this sounds a bit too strange’, but after a couple of plays I found myself coming round to its slightly eccentric style. To me it spells ‘movie soundtrack’, but to what kind of movie I couldn’t honestly say! It’s different though and will certainly make you think!
Sustaining Listener's Interest: 8/10
A very interesting concept this – okay, I found the whiney vocal bit a tad annoying, but other than that – I couldn’t actually find a reason not to like this. It’s just a bit different! Go on – give it a try!
Artist: Fear 2 Stop
Title: Science Friction
Fear2Stop are a new name to me, insofar as I have never heard them at all up to this reviewing point, so - as in all these cases - lets have the music do the talking...
No matter how much time I spend listening to Soundclick artists (about 80% of all music I listen to..) I am continually staggered at the sheer BREADTH of music being pumped out of this OMD. Like many of you, I have wandered ceaselessly between different MP3 sites over the past few years including all of the major ones. None has come close to the quality and quantity of really talented artists SC carries under its wing. The only other site than comes anywhere near close is - surprisingly enough - artists registered at Ejay. Most of them do not, btw, use the Ejay software, just the site and all the really important Ejay artists are on Soundclick anyway...
What got me started on this tortuous path was hearing Science Friction, whose title does illustrate what we are about to gratefully recieve - at least in some ways. In all others ways this is a thoroughly intelligent, satisfying track that should be heard by as many people as possible. It's musical roots (at least rhythmically) lie somewhere between Frank Zappa and 80's pop electronica (I kid ye not) and its frequent twists and turns are beautifully paced and presented. So much so that this is one instrumental that I am willing to let stay in my home.
As many of you know, an instrumental would really have to show a clean pair of heels for me to own up to liking it, and this track has the heels AND the body to match. Listening to it over more than a few plays I am reminded of so many other musical sources I'm spending half my listening time thinking 'where have I heard that'. To be sure, its initial appeal would obviously be to people who understood my description of the music style but this is so well produced and presented that it could appeal to a much wider SC audience. A truly excellent example of why Soundclick is so popular among musicians who want to hear their music, their way. An artist who I am definitely going to hear from further methinks.
Soundclick * Rebel Riffs * Vitamin C * Acid Planet
Is a mad old track you got there and I love all that, bit spooky in parts well a lot of parts, abstract but still I got the hole track in without killing my cat, top stuff I must try some more of this,
My Sounds Live Here...
Ok this is feckin weird shite mon. I'm a gonna have to roll up some inspiration to get me through this.
Its not all just noise there is a thread of cohesion, im just not able to follow it all the way through as of yet. Ok I think i have a vision. It is of spread eagle beagles playing rubber maid drums deep in the catacombs that we refer to as cities.
This sems to be a very urban sounding piece that to me would represent the chaos and distractive qualities of living in a urban centre. The noise field creation is pretty neat. It definately lends to the illusion of this dirty urban scene. Right down to the need for help and sanctuary near the middle
Wanna be good and confused. Listen to this a few times when you're relaxin at home. I was surprised to find that it did indeed take me somewhere
Mr Scarface: Hmmm, interesting ideas. Nice delivery. Scary.
Path of Destruction: I have to admit, when i heard the word 'keyboard' I almost didn't play it, but that's just me (I got bitten by a keyboard as a child and I've never been the same). You guys are very experimental, which I like. The drums in this tune are absolutely great! Have you heard of a guy called 'Squarepusher'? He's more d&b, but he does the same stuff with drums - I dunno, panning, filtering, whatever it is you do! At times it sounded like I was in an Atari computer game - any song that can take me away like that is all good by me...