Reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
After a number of album releases for Ninja Tune (Projections, Love Songs: Part Two and Home), Romare sets sail on his own label You See. Here he delivers a new 8-track album, bringing more of his own instrumentation and vocals to the fore alongside previously honed sampling techniques. On Fantasy, Romare (real name Archie Fairhurst) is able to also bring in audio clips from 1970s fantasy cinema, which proved a lasting inspiration during lockdown.
Fairhurst also cites a love of the band Gryphon and the influence of Medieval music on the album.
What’s the music like?
Playful and affectionate, though not afraid to get down and dirty when it wants to. The influence of Medieval music is most evident in its touching simplicity, while on other occasions Romare’s music is a lot more layered, with plenty going on.
Priestless chugs along with displaced voices, brassy undertones and fun riffing, its direction never easy to trace. Dungeon and the excellent Seventh Seal are more beat driven too, the latter exploring suspended synths which are initially hazy but then let loose in thrilling fashion. Sunset is energetic and quite playful, too.
At the other end of the beat spectrum sits the blissful Walking In The Rain, an easy and effortless stroll where the rhythm track and vocal – perfect for this month’s British weather! – go hand in hand. Closing track The Fool taps into a similar vibe, showing how easily Romare can switch between intense sample-based workouts and pieces of music that take us outside for a breather.
Does it all work?
It does. There are no particular rules to Fantasy, which make the resultant music all the more winsome. Fairhurst’s blend of carefree structure and more careful, studied looping works really well.
Is it recommended?
It is. Previous albums showed Romare to be imaginative and creative in rhythm and sound – Fantasy builds on that and shows he is progressing to be a producer of some repute.