In the band’s free time, apparently Foals doesn’t listen to music that sounds like Foals, or at least that’s the conclusion to be drawn after listening to Tapes, their addition to the !K7 Tapes series. Compiled by keyboardist Edwin Congreave and spanning the collective records of the rest of the band, Tapes is a ramshackle collection of everything from tacky disco to uninspiring house, full of surprises and completely devoid of any of the grooving bass lines and math rock/dance punk tendencies we’ve come to know and love from the UK outfit. With that established, though, the mixtape begins to stand on its own merits, as a carefully assembled, eclectic collection that’s worth spinning until their third LP arrives.
The first half of the mix focuses on individual songs, linked together sometimes by nothing more than static or indiscernible noise, taking from three decades and an assortment of genres. It works though, as tempos wax and wane with ease, a notable example being mellow Clark’s “Ted” into Dorian Concept’s “Tropical Hands”. The most surprising inclusion, also emblematic of the weird variety of the tape, is a lite rock African jam from the ’80s by Condry Ziqubu, ripped from the lead singer’s mom’s cassette collection. While fun, let’s hope the campy style stays away from Foals’ new material.
Side B delves into a darker and more dance-friendly corner of the record crate, though not without a few missteps. While there is merit in creating smooth transitions, doing so at the cost of aural interest isn’t worthwhile – and about half of this side of the collection blurs into monotony. Arnold Jarvis’ “Take Some Time Out” and the two following tracks particularly demonstrate this unfortunate trend, morphing together into a mundane mess of shuffling drum beats and synths. Redemption comes along later, though, in the form of the scattered, frenetic Caribou into Konono No 1 run. Perhaps recalling the jumpiness of their own “Cassius” or “Hummer” here, Congreave presents ten minutes of frantic breakbeats and the chance for a dance pit.
As the soulful funk of Gospel Comforters’ “Yes God Is Real” fades out, it becomes clear that Congreave took care to stray from tracks his normal audience would be familiar with (seriously, had you heard of Condry Ziqubu?). Ultimately, though, he knew exactly what his audience would enjoy, and he delivered accordingly.
Essential Tracks: “Paradiso”, “Ted”