Fun – Da – Mental “A Philosophy Of Nothing” : Album review
‘A Philosophy Of Nothing’
album available on iTunes
This album is a great work.
A diverse, stunningly original, stripped down adventure into sound…but first we need some history, some context.
Southern Death Cult are one of the great ‘what ifs…’
They appeared on the scene in 1980 in the middle of the thrilling mess of post punk with their pounding, tribal songs that dripped mystery and idealism that threatened to grab all those loose ends and become the biggest band in the country.
They fell apart at a tumultus last show at Manchester Poly before they could get their hands on the pot of gold. Their charismatic frontman, Ian Astbury, went on to rock star status in the Cult and the rest of the band reformatted as Getting The Fear – there was lots of cool stuff rising from the ashes but you are just left to wonder about those ‘what ifs…’
Their drummer was a young Bradford Pakistani punk kid called Aki Nawaz (born Haq Nawaz Qureshi) who eventually drifted down to London to work in the music biz before grabbing the chalice again and creating Fun Da Mental. This time Aki was dealing an Asian hip hop band who tried to explain the rise of the religious fundamentalism before anyone had ever heard of it and before it became a permanent headline in the new world disorder that we are living in.
Often controversial and always thought provoking the band dealt in big beats, warped electronics and, somehow still in their DNA, that earnest idealism of punk rock.
Aki was years ahead of his time musically and lyrically as he tried to tell a deaf world just what the Asian youth were feeling – trying to put the frustration into song and not into violence and they released some great records.
It’s been quiet for some time for the band but not time wasted as they re-emerge into a world that has caught up with their frontman’s prophet utterings with their greatest musical work yet. This is a real tour de force of diversity that deals in punk rock hip hop like the opening Remote Control, the sparse stripped down tension of Oh Hell No Worry, the reflective acoustic War Again (a co write former SDC member, Buzz) to the arabic melodies of Al Wa-ed to the English folk of Colour Of Rain. The new release is an album of musical diversity that reflects the 21st century where the sound of confusion of modern living is everywhere and the cultural mash up sees us far closer than we all pretend we are.
Aki is the voice of the real modern Britain- a maverick who grew up with his Pakistani background in Bradford, he was thrilled by punk rock and was a key player in post punk and is now adept at hip hop but not scared to mash everything up with eastern and western flavours. This album is what a walk down a real British street sounds like in 2015. The fact that Fun Da Mental are no longer radical is their final victory.
The album has zillions of guest vocalists and players – each bringing their own flavour to the melting pot but it’s the Aki-vision that makes it sound whole.
In a fair world this would be a frontline album – a Mercury Prize piece of work and not a cult missive. It’s a release that is worth immersing yourself in, with many great twists and turns and musical flavours that puts it far ahead of most of the lazy mass produced American hip hip.
And here’s one last ‘what if’…what if Southern Death Cult ever got back together again for one last hurrah and criss crossed their already eclectic post punk Bitches Brew with their former drummer’s love of eastern music and phat beats – it would be mental…fundamental…and genius…