"Post-industrial themes and a vitriolic bleakness rattle through a plethora of his tracks, highlighting the adopted Mancunian’s upbringing in the North East and his love for its urban dereliction and natural beauty"
Seems like something special is brewing in Manchester. Maybe not Madchester levels of acid revolution and baggy-panted hedonism but over the past 3 years, a shedload of young, frighteningly talented and sonically singular producers have been transforming the electronic music scene. Manchester has never lacked great DJs or dancefloor producers but this cycle seems a bit different, not your usual youthful uprising.
To give you some context on things happening: Finn is running 2 B Real and the Mixtape Club series, Anz is pushing jungle, dub and breaks into new tight corners, Tom Boogizm is creating uncategorizable and mad machine soul-funk as Rat Heart and with his Shotta Tapes label, Michael J. Blood doing his best one-man Moodymann/Urban Tribe/Actress impression, Space Afrika and Sferic crafting a new urban ambient for the post-industrial age and Sockethead is lighting up dark alleyways with post-punk techno and scrambled rap. Not to forget mainstays Demdike Stare and Andy Stott still bearing the torch for the youth of the scene.
YOUTH coincidentally happens to be one label at the epicentre of this mini caustic uprising, a label run by Manchester’s own DJ Lyster. Lyster’s close proximity to the city’s underground talents has enabled him to capture the essence of a new frantic take on dub, techno, outer-national and musique concrete and package it up into CDs, cassettes and the odd vinyl release, all accompanied by his striking visual designs.
One of the label’s key artists is FUMU. Relatively well known in the city, the producer is not exactly new on the scene, being heavily involved in the underground party circuit and minted YOUTH’s first-ever release with ‘Sinuate’. That one was less of an album, more amalgam of scuzzed up punk, distorted dancehall and industrial Teesside BEATZ. Since releasing ‘Sinuate’ though, FUMU (short for Fuck Up Move Up) has been going like a mad gadger in the studio, honing his craft, developing a distinct voice that embodies a jagged and angular love of noise electronics, bass music and culture.
FUMU has steadily built an intrinsic knowledge of production skills whether that be drum programming, mixing and mastering or synthesis. Coupled with an ear for percussion, sonics and rhythm, you have something quite uncommon. His workouts on YOUTH have been generally infected with dancehall riddims, rough with distortion and his mixing technique has set him apart from some of the aforementioned producers. The ‘Skinned’ EP in 2019 evidenced this rising studio prowess, bringing harsh levels of Mika Vainio power and beefing up the aggro to level 10.
Tracks on ‘Almost, Nearly, Never Where?’ bear some similar hallmarks slinking from obscure grumbles to melancholic beauties to club shakers. They were all originally recorded between 2015-2018 at ‘The Tube’, the studio he shared with Modern Love and Return to Zero pal, Turinn. Sampling Kendrick Lamar, layering dembow rhythms in a classy industrial stylee next to broken off-kilter house and powerful grayscale landscape electronics is not easy, but somehow not as diffuse as you might think.
You’ll need to strap in tight for ‘Cloud Head’ and its roaring, gnarly tones that would feel at home in an IMAX cinema experience. Head here if you are into Merzbow, Pan Sonic, Opal Tapes and the like. ‘4 Mika’ is also a classy nod to the nordic noise pioneer; a powerful sparkling icicle landscape freshened up with a swinging Time Cow drum pattern.
Post-industrial themes and a vitriolic bleakness rattle through a plethora of his tracks, highlighting the adopted Mancunian’s upbringing in the North East and his love for its urban dereliction and natural beauty. ‘Nu’’s metallic skeleton shaking bass stabs are faced up to ice kalt Gameboy keys whilst an intimidating vocal broods at odd locations.
The toughness is albeit aplenty but juxtaposed with beauties like ‘Unlmtd Potential’, which is only a simple few chords thrown alongside a really sweetly balanced bassline. Much like the closing track, ‘Extra 10’ that brews disconsolate Actress style arp and pads together as they wither and decay before delicately helixing back into life.
‘Skhs Pt. 9’ and ‘Skhs Pt. 11’ show what FUMU has in his club artillery. Short and sweet drum workouts that’ll blow your wig off with thundering overdrive and analog crunch sitting on top of a large and in charge kick drum. Think DJ Python gone mad on an overdose of saturation.
‘Loosin’ Shit’ marches into a clanking ironclad 4/4 thumper after an electrifying intro, jazzed up with nifty filter modulation that twists the track inside and out into new rhythmical patterns.
FUMU is industrious in the pursuit of his craft, which has given him a fierce unmistakable sound. YOUTH will continue to support him by releasing his first album proper later this year pressed up on vinyl, so expect more tough musical workouts from one of Manchester’s good ‘uns.
‘Almost, Nearly, Never Where?’ is out now via YOUTH. Order a copy from Bandcamp.
2. 4 Mika
3. Inna Tough
4. Unlmtd Potential
5. Skhs Pt. 9
6. It’s All Steel
7. Gator 2
8. Cloud Head
9. Loosin’ Shit
10. Skhs Pt. 11
13. Extra 10