Someday, someone needs to take the time to comb through Fanon Flowers’ archives and figure out what we’ve got here. Has anyone been so consistently in the pocket over the past twenty years? A few can stake that kind of track record, but I still have yet to hear a Fanon Flowers record that doesn’t hit on some level – one record that you can’t take home and find some use for, whether it was made today or in the mid-1990s.
The Track Modes have been a resilient, unbreakable theme threaded through his career – like a pole star that one can fixate on and use to locate other stars and discover new directions. Track Modes 4 was just released on wax by Mechanisms Industries and sees the release of “Mode 09” backed by “Mode 12” (none of these have been chronological: Trackmodes, the OG, released Modes 05, 22, 08 and 16 back in 1998).
There’s a certain industrial aesthetic to the Modes – you can’t call them a throwback, that’s wrong, but there was an element of retro-futurism when the series and this label were conceived that felt far more sensible than can be understood today. Songs were still made by fairly rudimentary gear, in studios with rows of knobs, reproduced by a mysterious industrial process and best listened to by 18 year olds on acid in warehouses or lofts still covered in motor oil and a patina of human industry.
I still can still smell the resin in Modes 09 and 12. This could be the music of an assembly line in the molten heart of a newly electrified city; night work in a sleepy subdivision carving out a gigantic septic system a few meters under the pavement. These things similarly get under your skin – a few minutes of pause and you’re feeling like something’s been lost from your consciousness. This is the sound of my environment: everything from the subtle whoosh of city traffic that never stops to the thunder of lazy jets and the imperceptible buzz of 8,000 orange sodium lights vibrating in unison. It’s also the sound of a Midwest being left to rot in the back of neighborhoods some people have no reason to go to and thus never see. Fanon lived in Kalamazoo when the Track Modes began but most of these records now make their way to Middle Europe, where they might be appreciated for the same reasons but still provide the soundtrack to home.
Support! This was originally published in 5 Magazine Issue 137 featuring Demuir, Igor Jadranin, Apollo Music Group with DJ Heather, Lil’Mark and Dan X, a DJ’s guide to music streaming and more. Support Real House Music and become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full access to everything House Music for just $1 an issue!