Quirky electropop explorations…
One of 2020’s sleeper albums was Fabrefactions, an oddly alluring collection of songs by Bearcraft, a Bristol-based musical collective led by Dicky Moore.
Across ten compositions, Fabrefactions crafts a musical journey inspired by moving upriver along the Thames. Or as Bearcraft describe it, the songs encompass “overheard ghost stories and half-remembered urban myths. Here are tales of runaways, banshees, estuary witches, acid trips and seafront car-cruising, set to sounds that evoke bankside industry, underground dancehalls and the ambient push and pull of the shoreline.”
In fact, describing the album is a tricky challenge as it changes shape and style across the songs that make up Fabrefactions. It offers up a series of electropop vignettes that also throws a few nods to folktronica. The vocal duties are divided between Sam Sally and Dicky Moore himself, with Sally’s vocals in particular illustrating a mesmerising, whispery charm. The end result is a quirky, engaging collection of songs that have a subtle way of working their way into your head.
Essex-born musician/producer Dicky Moore himself has an eclectic musical background. One quarter of Dream Themes, previously a guitarist for Frank Sidebottom’s Oh Blimey Big Band and also plays for Scritti Politti. Fabrefactions was apparently composed after “a diagnosis of hearing loss”; recorded at an artist’s studio in London Fields before finally being mixed next to a motorway in Bristol. The album’s genesis took place over a ten year period (and follows on from earlier album outing Yestreen).
Opening number ‘Folk Devil and the Moral Panics’ is an oddly unsettling electronica piece that sounds like Boards Of Canada meets John Carpenter. As an instrumental, it serves as an effective intro to the album although it’s also perversely the complete polar opposite to the music that follows it.
‘Outside in the Morning Snow’ cranks up the folktronica vibe on a surprisingly effective composition whose dubby beats manage to really get under your skin. Sam Sally is double-tracked with Moore on vocal duties here, lending the whole affair a haunting quality.
‘Honey’ delivers a straight-up club-orientated electropop banger; a strident number where Moore’s vocal delivery has an airy quality and, combined with some smooth production, delivers a slick outing. ‘Of Course You Did’ keeps that vibe going on a superb slice of lounge pop, which also serves to show how impressive Sam Sally’s vocal chops really are.
Elsewhere, the baroque qualities of ‘Where The Sun Sets’ sounds like some lost Austra song, a wonderfully immersive reverie that delivers one of Fabrefactions’ finest moments.
‘We Don’t Deserve To Die’, which features Moore on vocals, has a lush slow groove to it. At times reminiscent of French synth masters Air, it’s also got a nice simplicity to it with the vocals high in the mix.
Meanwhile, the title track (which also closes the album) is another strange dreamlike experience. The longest track on the album, it features shimmering glissando effects dropping in and out as layered electronics burble away in the mix. There’s a warm, hymnal vibe lurking at the heart of this composition, despite its weirdness.
Pigeonholing Fabrefactions would be a tricky task as it doesn’t really fit any particular genre of electronic music, instead choosing to cherrypick styles and arrangements as Dicky Moore wills it. But the end result is something remarkable and compelling and well worth your time giving it a spin.
Fabrefactions is out now.