The emphatic opening track, “G A U T,” off of experimental Singaporean producer FAUXE’s latest, Ikhlas, is built on the bones of a nursery rhyme-like Malay film song, played in sepia tones. Giving way to some ludicrously side-chained arrival of 808 drums and hi-hats, we listen to a marriage that is gloriously, unabashedly international and hard to not obsess over. Hearing this beat unfold is sort of like watching FAUXE using drum patterns as a powerful tool, interpreting his own past and reconciling it with his current influences.
Affiliated with CHINABOT’s excellent roster of pan-Asian producers and beatmakers, FAUXE finds himself immersed in sonic mining, parsing through the rich, once-unified musical histories of Singapore and Malaysia. With these sounds, the rhythms of funk, breakbeat and drum and bass keep time. The end result from these 16 rudimentary, no-nonsense tracks is like exhaust fumes mixing with incense, while blinding neon signage and glass walls fill spaces between multi-directional foot traffic. The fast-paced and effortlessly catchy collage of Malaysian music spans loungey crooners, overproduced 2000s dance-slop-pop, folk songs and everything in between.
Early standouts like “Meh” bear a stronger resemblance to blissful cloud trap, while others like “Kapak” and “Sampan” are far more chaotic with their intense sample-driven melodies and frenetic beats, mirroring the noxious disorientation of urban chaos. As dense as some of these instrumentals can get, the overall atmosphere of the album maintains an ever-changing, almost brittle personality. Stagnancy is wholly avoided, and things move forward rapidly. Boldly sporting the accessible, reproducible aesthetic of street market multimedia, Ikhlas is the pure product of sophisticated cultural exchange, a high-octane run from one mode of transportation to another, a love letter to urban living.