Fashiøn “Fabrique De Luxe” Ultrabox Hits The Streets [part 3]

Fashiøn On The Move (c) 1982 Paul Cox
Fashiøn MK II were, L-R: Dik Davies, Martin Recchi, Dave Harris, Salvatore Mulligan ©1982 Paul Cox

[…continued from this post]

The quintessential précis of the Fashiøn sound come down to a single track…”Streetplayer-Mechanik.”Sustained bass notes lasting a bar over a 4/4 Simmons pad beat with a two note synth ostinato set the stage with a taut urgency. Then bright synth horn stabs syncopating with squelchy synth percussion on the off beat got the pulse racing admirably. Surgical bass ganks shoved the song along as the whispered vocal chant began the song.

No one is unique, everything is Mechanique,

No one is unique, everything is Mechanique,

No one is unique, everything is Mechanique,

No one is unique, everything is Mechanique,

Arista | UK | 7″ | 1982 | ARIST 456

Then the sprays of synth white noise and the vocoders gurgling “streetplayer” completed the whirlwind of synthetic funk that was enveloping the listener. Vocalist Dave Harris then stepped into the song’s spotlight with his bad self, fully outlining his lone wolf status with the verses. Harris’ angular guitar licks added to the immaculate poise of it all. I was in awe at how producer Zeus B. Held was able to fuse an analog funk band with what sounded like a king’s ransom of almost grotesque levels of high technology.

When Harris casually dropped a “Yow!” at the end of the first and third verses, he was drawing explicit lines to Larry Blackmon of Cameo, yet this blend of high technology at work in the song brought the end result closer to the fusion that Prince was achieving around the same time. The precise, machine-like rhythmic sequencers circling complex ostinatos through the chorus can take my breath away.

Next came what is making inroads to being my favorite track on “Fabrique.” “Dressed To Kill” Was built on eloquent multi-tracked bass and guitar lines and a solid 4/4 slam on the Simmons drums that gained momentum from strategic, reverberating tom fills that sounded like tympani served to accelerate the breathless, whirling energy of the propulsive song. Harris invested the song with the restless urgency of a night prowler while daring to peer beneath the surface and question the substance beneath the appearances.

Hand cut Italian but you’re off the peg of life

You’re only a pawn in the game that we play

You ought to remember the person inside of you

Are you really feeling the things that you say?

Dressed To Kill

The rondos of delicate synth loops added an airy filigree to the hard and implacable rhythms that anchored the song. The clavinet in the second half of the song had been processed somehow to sound like a Chapman Stick, though that instrument was not in the impressive listing of instrumentation for the album. The rhythmic complexity of it all was down to not only Simmons and acoustic drums in concert throughout the track but also the tattoos of handclaps from the TR 808 sprinkled liberally into the mix. Zeus B. Held was a genius for deciding to mix foley effects of tires squealing into the climactic coda of the thrilling track. Finally, the second appearance on the album of what I will call “the singularity,” a rising multi-octave synth portamento, in the last seconds of the song was shorthand for the energy levels of the track ascending to infinity as the last instance of the multi-tracked Harris intoning the last cold “dressed to kill” of the final chorus.

Next: …Picture After Picture

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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