fLacko “Carving Away The Clay”

I knew little of fLako before I boughtCarving Away the Clay on 10″ (45rpm pressing) aside of what friends told me.  Some of them love everything the artist has released.  Others think he’s hit or miss.  To be honest, when I dropped the needle on the first cut of this four-track EP I thought perhaps I made a big mistake!  But the guys at Poo-Bah

, my favorite local record store, have never steered me wrong before.  Luckily I ventured further and tried the other three tracks before drawing any conclusions.  I’m so thankful that I took the time to do so!  To be brutally honest; because I’m constantly consuming music, when I end up with an album, and I don’t dig the first couple of songs, sometimes I rush to judgement.  I’m not proud of this, but I cannot deny it.  I wholeheartedly wish I gave every cut on every album a chance before drawing any conclusions.  But who has time for that?

The first track of side A: “Broken Toy” sounds precisely as the title indicates.  It was, upon first listen, an audible assault of shrieking horn samples, broken drum beats, and a combination of pads that almost sounds like people sitting on bleachers, stomping their feet at a high school football game (American football that is).  This dreamy synth line swoops in and breaks up the madness.  Then fLako drops a funky and squishy horn-sample, plus a bouncy rhythm that just gets in your head.  He ends it with a wobbly bass line that just comes to a surprising halt after some swift key changes.  Sound like something you’d enjoy?  Not me typically.  After falling in love with side B, I’ve grown to actually enjoy this track, but it’s only for sonic adventurists.  If electronic silliness isn’t something you eat up occasionally  I suggest skipping this cut.  ”Inner Trouble” is also a little crazy.  There is, fortunately, a tastier sway and pulse to this track.  It sounds like a combination of multiple styles, an electronic salad of a little South American and seemingly African flavors (maybe even a little calypso mixed in there).  I enjoyed this one from the start.  Be warned: This is for fans of experimental electronic music or perhaps what I sometimes call ” nu skool electronic r&b”, such as James Blake’s first album (vinyl review to follow soon).

To dispense with the bullshit: I think this EP is worth owning on vinyl because of side B. “Lonely Town” featuring Dirg Gerner, the EP’s closing track, is wicked.  It’s symphonic soul at it’s very best.  The song is stripped down, with a laid-back groove that causes head-nods with silky vocals that just ripple into your listening space.  Perfect for a date night that’s working in your favor.  This song is hooky, but not in a bubble gum pop sort of way.  It’s the kind of track you play when you’re driving in your car at sunset with the windows down and you’re feeling great.  I think Carving Away the Clay is a worthy buy for this one track when I break it down, and that sounds insane, but it’s how much I love “Lonely Town.”  ”The Answer”, also featuring Dirg Gerner has the potential to be as suave as “Lonely Town.”  It’s got a great vibe and velvety chorus.  Unfortunately that’s really all it has!  It sounds like it’s supposed to just wash over you.  The lyrics: “Something that you know, something that you feel” is hypnotically delivered and there’s power there, but it’s also subdued.  I had a moment when I got lost in the sound of the lyrical flow, but I always wanted more. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

After taking the time to experience this record, I’m glad I own it on vinyl.  Some people are going to think it’s nuts because this 10″ is about twenty bucks ($17.99) but I think of it as a single with a cooler B side.


Michael Mercer is a veteran reviewer of music and audio components. He got his start working for The Absolute Sound as a teenager and then made his way over to Atlantic Records, working with the legendary producer Arif Mardin. Considered one of the leading "crusaders for personal audio", Mercer can be found writing for many audio publications on the Internet.

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