Fhloston Paradigm

The Phoenix

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King Britt's first releases under his Afrofuturist techno alias, including a tribute to Telefon Tel Aviv's Charlie Cooper, were short-form free downloads. The proper debut from Fhloston Paradigm -- the name a play on the resort in Luc Besson's 1997 sci-fi film The Fifth Element -- arrived in 12" form on Hyperdub in 2012. FP then went inactive, at least in a public sense, as Britt juggled his assortment of other creative concerns. Released around the time he organized Sun Ra tributes and participated in other Afrofuturism events, The Phoenix shouldn't shock those who know the producer's past. Considering Britt's earliest work on Strictly Rhythm, his compilation of The Cosmic Lounge, and his and Rucyl's short-lived Saturn Never Sleeps, among several other projects, it's more a culmination than a diversion. In fact, there's a through line, if one that's barely perceptible at points, that runs across his time line, from when he first saw a Moog -- as a child, in the company of Sun Ra -- to this. Britt clearly constructed and sequenced these tracks to to be experienced from beginning to end. There's a crafty balance of rhythmically complex but accessible machine soul -- including the theme-like "Chasing Rainbows," reprised from the 12", with its threatening synth-probe riffs and crunching, frozen drums -- and alien ambient pieces that blur the line between menacing and tranquil. Masked spoken transmissions, like "This unchecked aggression will not stand," aren't much more telling than the handful of vocal tracks, all of which feature women. Rachel Claudio whispers a foreboding mantra over "Never Defeated," an elegant weaving of flickers and thumps that evokes a rainy, dystopian street scene. The first half closes and the second half begins with disparate showcases for Pia Ercole, who adds a striking operatic dimension. Natasha Kmeto, whose "Deeply" was previously given two Fhloston Paradigm remixes, returns the favor on the finale, a wistful ballad that functions as this marvelous score-in-need-of-a-film's love theme. The artwork of Joshua Mays, seen in full through the gatefold vinyl and foldout compact disc packaging, provides an ideal look.

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