Coffee and the lush scenery of his homeland, Finland – Two key ingredients that helped electronic musician/DJ Janne Fatula, better known as ‘Fanu’, cook up some of the moodiest, dark and evocative albums of the year. Fanu crafts a unique variety of music, and his sound ranges from jungle drum ‘n’ bass and drumfunk, to downtempo and dubstep. With such an eclectic mix of electronic subgenres, you can understand and appreciate the time and effort it must have taken to create each song.
An emotional journey, ‘Serendipity’ allows the listener to delve deep into their imagination or lose themselves in what the album has to offer. The album concentrates mainly on downtempo styled tracks that are full of syncopated drum samples and an array of string samples, all of which are layered over a warm, deep bass synth. It’s an album that draws inspiration from the cold, and often reminds me of an imagined urban environment covered in a wintry blanket of rain or snow. The percussion of this album is massive – I don’t even know how Fanu comes across his drum samples. They match his synths and worldly string layers perfectly, and even though Fanu could have chosen to go with more hip-hop inspired beats for much of the album, I find that his decision to keep the drums varied and frantic to be one that works in his favour – It’s almost like having one of your favourite jazz drummers jam to an ambient album. You’d think that the complexity would take away from the relaxation of this album, but you’d be at surprised how well the drums just roll on with the rest of the music.
‘Jumitus’ opens the album on a more ambient note, which gets the listener acquainted with Fanu’s unique sound while allowing them to let their hair down. It’s intriguing to note that the bass says “I’m dubstep”, yet the other musical layers paint a more downtempo picture. It’s a nice little thing I noticed while I listened to it. ‘Serendipity’ seems to change up its sound every five tracks, and the middle of the album sees the pace of the album starting to pick up. I would call this the “fun section” of the album, featuring ‘Shatner Rap’, a lighthearted hip-hop track featuring a random, stream-of-consciousness rap by Greenleaf, and ‘Rave Like It’s… ‘, a song that seems to abandon the sound that the rest of the album has, bearing lots of energy and a club friendly sound. The final tracks are dark, atmospheric gems. My favourite moment on the album has got to go to ‘Strange Days’. It’s a song that creates a feeling of hopelessness and, strangely, moments of intense beauty. If there’s one thing that Fanu knows how to do, it’s creating a track which resonates within you and stays in your mind forever.
I’d have to say that Janne Fatula is one of the most forward thinking artists in the drum and bass scene today. He doesn’t adhere to any sound other than his own, and it’s a sound that really is hard to explain with words. His music is just ethereal.