Phaeleh :: Fallen Light
The South-Western English city of Bristol is as synonymous with its seaside as it is with the chilled out and electronics-heavy version of hip-hop that was given the much maligned tag of Trip-Hop in the early 90s. So crucial a role did the city play in the creation of this genre that anything remotely electronic that came out of there was automatically pigeonholed into the "Bristol Sound"; a description given to the dark, brooding soundscapes of Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack. Any Bristolian producers coming after these three massively critically, and commercially, successful artists would obviously have a lot to live upto.
Matt Preston, aka Phaeleh (pronounced "fella") founded Urban Scrumping Records in 2008 as a platform for his and others' brand of deep and soulful electronica that usually clocked in around 140 bpm. A slew of 12"s and EPs later, his Fallen Light album is poised to catapult him into the big leagues and along the way, win him a new legion of fans; ones that may be more attune to the dubstep that pervades so much of British made electronica today. But unlike most of the bass-centric dubstep that everyone seems to be dipping into, Phaeleh's brand is inherently of a more downtempo and melodic nature and is aimed at the home/headphone listening crowd. In just over 60 minutes, Fallen Light manages to take us from the deep electronica of "Afterglow" and the 2step influence of "Ellipse" to the ambient electronics of "Ghosts of Memories" and the title track.
Indian instrumentation and vocals add to the very whimsical "Losing You" and the skanks of "Plateau" and "Badman" are sure to find a place for their dub grooves amongst many a DJ's crates. "Delusions" and "Ellipse" clearly take a page from the Burial production handbook – skittering and muted garage beats and R&B vocals samples that form what little refrain there is but Phaeleh, unlike Burial, makes his dubstep ring with optimism and light.
Certainly a refreshing take on a genre so consumed with dark melodies and instrumentation, Fallen Light is one of the better downtempo electronica releases of the past year. Phaeleh's affinity for the various tempos and live instrumentation that make up this disc are really what sets him apart – not a single monotonous moment as each track brings in a vision and execution so clever that you are left realizing that any and all comparisons to his legendary, fellow Bristolians are welcome and well deserved.