New Zealand has had a rough ride in cultural relations as of late. For a country promising so much, it finds itself undermined by those who see only the obvious and most presented of creative outputs in the mainstream emmision of communication and entertainment. We here in the UK - and further to that, fellow Commonwealth nations - will remind ourselves automatically the Kiwis (as they are nicknamed) are those whom always seem to do that 'daft tribal dance thing' prior to any game of rugby. Likewise, Americans' knowledge may be limited to the memory that the film adaptation of fantasy epic The Lord Of The Rings was [primarily] shot in the country's lush, green landscapes. Music is admittedly an area the Oceania sovereignty hasn't faired as strong as when compared to its European and Atlantic cousins. But surprise surprise, even cultural enlightenment and individual creativity can stem even to distant nations as this. And if recent newcomers like Kimbra & Lorde have proven to be more than just pretty faces to exploit in the pop genre, deep in the subterrenean, cavernous seclusion of New Zealand, another branch of musical identity is unearthing another face to New Zealand's roster. Olly Perryman has decided to lay low and develop his identity this time round under the name Fis over the past year - unsurprisingly being welcomed into Tri-Angle's predominantly trans-Atlantic reach.
Preparations is Fis' directly face-forward first-impression - built on past taste, but also a kind of enigmatic suggestion, while borrowing from Perryman's fascination with drum n bass, makes a bold statement and an even bolder intention - like label favourite Balam Acab - at defining the undefinable; depicting the undepictable; finding something in what might be perceived as nothing. And by that I don't mean some objectively-masquerading, critique-formulated nothing. But nothing in the psychological and metaphysical sense: a existential:nihilistical tearing at the centre in finding what is...and what isn't. True, the textural and directional changes between this and Acab's wonderful 2011 debut are clear (or should that be opaque) to see. Though regarding the sheer sonic qualities and densities to Fis' sound though, the comparison is justly recognizeable and acquaint. Magister Nunns immediately brings to light the native, aboriginal hostility of Perryman's herritage with whailing flutes that fade off into dense but gaseous shrouds of compressed bass, percussion textures and transposing distrortion. Already I'm envisaging being hunted, forced perhaps, into some rocky, cornered environment and - as the flutes return and a gale of disrortion picks up - forced to take shelter in a shaft or underground bunker-like enclosure. The immediacy of Perryman's delivery increases more-so in following track DMT Usher which finds itself using its bass in a more rhythmically accompaniment role to the primary offer of haunting, frantic synthesizers that take up most of the composition's attention and - while atmospherically and emotionally engaging - don't develop as much into something much grander or perhaps more awe-inspiring to experience.
Thus, there's a clear distinction being presented in Fis' sound in regards to the progression of each piece, and that I feel Perryman's more direct and narrower emphasis on particular front-centre layers is more the defining atttribute to these tracks, and the background layers - though not coming off as expendable or mere collateral - are more a mere after-effect or result of Fis' supposed baron-but-not-baron insentives. Mildew Swoosh does attempt to push the effects a little bit closer, and the tie-in to the track's beats and bottom-heavy drums do reatly benefit in emphasizing what I take to be a kind of unfavourable, unrecognizable encompassing...but one that's not without some kind of intended interest we can latch onto. What that interest is specifically is never answered or pushed further, and we're left a little in the dark conceptually as we are visually and figuratively. But if Fis is indeed all about the more direct components and strictly pushing their strengths forward, CE Visions surpasses any preliminary expectation. And the rewar (more bluntly, the neck-withdrawing startlement) comes from Perryman's bouncing, colliding bass that's less bouncing in the way a ball so juviantly meets turf or grass; more it's in line with the kind of 'bounce' a carcuss or land-slide impacts upon deceasement or complete ceasing of movement. The sheer figurative connotations and strength of Fis' production is the strongest of the four offered, and while the bass is clearly the focus, that's not to say the enshrowding of dark and dense tones doesn't add any less of a contextual suggestion of baronness, or of - more likely - nature in its most volatile and antagonistic of appearences.
Times like this often involve taking another look - perhaps one that isn't as discounting or passive as the intial one - towards the cover to Preparations and understanding a bit more as to the initial suggestiveness that the EP in question seems to point towards. And while the frantic, proto-figurative assemble of lines, shapes and pressure points may dictate a suggestion that Fis' music is as chaotic or as scrawled as the images, the truth is that the music offered here is about the other sugestions of witnessing such imagery. Fis' sound then is in fact a dormancy of stability and unstable manners in equal measure - an investigation of such fine-line differences and becoming lost in what was once a humble, curious looking-into. Admittedly Olly Perryman's still shows wobbles of unrefined indecision - a result of lacking content and the eager need for advancement. But in its initial phase, and to speak in the EP's sonic context, this state of discovering something so locked away and isolated (perhaps for the greater good) - so locked away it conjures all types of unfamilar cynicism and involunatary stimuluses - brings with it a vibe shocking in its infectuousness, but invites us to delve deeper into. How Fis will transmorph and refine this into LP form, is something I look forward to with intrigued yet anxious eyes/ears.