Chris Watson and Chris Coupe – who make up FYI Chris – first met in South London. Hailing from the North, the pair were familiar with a strong sense of community, and that’s exactly what they found in Peckham.
Regular’s at Rye Wax and often at the helm of the Rye Wax radio show, the pair’s debut album – ‘Earth Scum’ on Black Acre Records – is a collection of songs made with good friends, and inspired by sounds, situations and people that they have been around in South London and the North.
We begin with a cut of futuristic Noir; what sounds like a manipulated black and white film score littered with sci-fi optimism that steadily develops into bouncy dreamscape. ‘Secret Soup’ features chopped and screwed samples that glitch out and across its two-minute length, before the pair introduce close friends MC Pinty and Simeon Jones on ‘On Tik’. – It’s a perfect match. If you have heard Pinty’s solo work, you will know that he loves to ride jazz-influenced hip hop and garage rhythms. Here, it sounds like FYI Chris have been producing for him for years, perfectly matching both artists energies through Mike Skinner, working class lyricism and soul-drenched tones.
On ‘Tempora’ the pair again adjust their creative lens, this time bringing back the vibes felt on earlier releases on Seb Wildblood’s Church label – a club ready cut of bubbling, weirdo house. Simeon Jones returns on ‘Morleys Preference’. Here, the sound meanders again, this time with an otherworldly funk aesthetic that feels like it unites the past eras of Gil Scott Heron with the contemporary sensibility of modern R&B.
DJ Morris is enlisted on ‘Outie’ – rasta samples, sci-fi inspired bleep and intricate percussion forming a track that would not sound out of place arriving on Facta and K-Lone’s Wisdom Teeth label. ‘Black Dragon Loop’ transports the listener to an era of full-blown hedonism. Perfectly suited for a low-lighting, low-ceiling encounter where fist and roof can meet.
‘Green Parquet’ feels like an underwater journey. You know when Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan follow that awful Jar Jar Bink to the underwater city on Naboo in The Phantom Menace? It feels a little like that; chirping birds, green-imagined atmospherics and bubbling acid licks providing the score for what feels like a journey through a subterranean forest.
‘Four Teslas’. Take it what way you want – are they talking about Elon Musk or those little chalky tablets we used to take at raves? Everyone remembers their first, right? Ever wondered what that might feel like sonically?
‘Four Teslas’ encapsulates the euphoria that only comes when discovering something so new and exciting. It also features moments of glitchy anxiety which – depending on your experience – will feel all too familiar. It’s all good though, we ride out into the sunrise with our arms around each other in the end.
‘No Sun’ transports us back to South London’s sunny contemporary jazz scene, before we arrive at the last – and in my opinion the best – track on the record.
“I was conceived in the recovery position in the basement of police station, brought up like a ballerina’s breakfast and raised on stolen donations,” says Mancunian poet Thick Richard as ‘Scum Of The Earth’ begins. Richard is an uncle to Watson, and together they have written a love letter to the working class; ownership being taken over classist stereotypes and rave reminiscence, inner-city issues explained and fists raised against inadequate governments across imaginative spoken word and crisp breaks that feel like a poetic ode to grass roots.
The album itself is a tribute to Peckham – references to chicken shops and the club culture of Rye Wax sonically imagining the diverse cultures that call the district home, and casting thoughts back to packed out dancefloors and comedowns on living room floors.
Words: Andrew Moore
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