Switched On – Nathan Fake: Crystal Vision (Cambria Instruments)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

There is no sub plot to Crystal Vision, Nathan Fake’s sixth album.

The Norfolk-based producer describes his approach as “music for music’s sake – recorded without angles, agendas and themes”. This means a continuation of his energetic electronica, creating powerful minds-eye visions with its bold colours and busy rhythms.

What’s the music like?

Crystal Vision pulses with energy. The music here often feels like part of a bigger machine, especially in the cymbal-rich percussion, which on tracks like Boss Core feels like some sort of euphoric process, the repetitive motion of its beats leading to greater highs.

Vimana is a bracing and colourful track, using its synths to trace bright lights across the sky. Bibled grows inexorably over a thudding breakbeat, while the urgency of Hawk also whips up a storm, while uncannily describing its subject matter.

Wizard Apprentice gives an appropriately cool vocal to The Grass, while the closing Outsider is a busy and rewarding collaboration with Clark that takes a restless, probing single line and spins it out across an urgent beat and a wide sonic panorama, the music becoming ever more dense and thrilling as it progresses.

Does it all work?

Yes, it does – fulfilling Fake’s promise that the music is there for its own sake, creating positive energy and thoroughly rewarding experiences.

Is it recommended?

It is indeed, enthusiastically so – a strong addition to what is now a formidable discography.



Switched on – Nathan Fake: Blizzards (Cambria Instruments)

What’s the story?

Blizzards began with Nathan Fake’s intention to soundtrack ‘the ideal rave’. Heavily based on his live shows, it was made with an eye on musical instinct, going with the moment and effectively going back to first principles.

The Norfolk producer’s fifth album, Blizzards’ title is a nod towards the chaotic politics of the UK in recent times, but its spirit is about channeling positive energy in response.

What’s the music like?

By turns, the music in Blizzards is invigorating and heartwarming. Fake has always been able to summon up kinetic energy without a moment’s notice, which explains why the album gets off to such a strong start with Cry Me A Blizzard, but it’s an approach that bears fruit elsewhere with the twists, turns and clattering breakbeats of Firmament. Vectra and Eris & Dysnomia power upwards from deep bass movements, their loops sweeping all before them, while Torch Song is all about the euphoric treble, with rushes of white sound and widescreen percussive movement. Tbilisi, meanwhile, has sonorous bell-like textures to counter the fizzing drum track

These heady, hedonistic moments of abandon are beautifully countered by warm-hearted thoughts and rich harmonies. Ezekiel evolves magically, from primitive beginnings to brightly lit vistas all centred on a majestic melodic loop, taking the listener on an immersive trip. It is a real beauty, one of Fake’s warmest musical thoughts to date. The closing Vitesse, with all energy spent, revels in the comedown of a good and thoroughly satisfying night, slowly descending in pitch as it comes in to land.

Does it all work?

Yes, handsomely. Nathan Fake has always shown a strong suitability for the album format but here, on his own label, he works brilliantly well with a combination of structure and flexibility. The instinctive approach gives Blizzards a human edge and a warmth that might not have been so apparent had the music been more studio-governed.

Is it recommended?

Without hesitation. In a competitive field, Blizzards is probably Nathan Fake’s finest piece of work to date, confirming him to be one of the top talents of the day in UK electronic music.

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