a man called adam
“Farmarama“ is the latest record of A Man Called Adam, a British electronic duo mostly known for their output in the genres of ambient and balearic house music. The album comes after a 14 year hiatus, and displays a more mature version of AMCA. It is a masterful work by artists aware of their past, who are always prepared to push the boundaries of commonly held genre beliefs.
Remember when Daft Punk returned with “Random Access Memories“? And how everybody was going crazy about the different genres on the album and all the musicians they collaborated with? Well, “Farmarama“ is in many ways that, too. But without the cloak of pop music - only dwelling on a pop not pop, as they like to say - A Man Called Adam have the freedom to work independent of major market demands, and are allowed to push their craft any way they want to.
“Farmarama“ is first of all, a nostalgic record. From the themes invoked, to the melodies played, all the way to the album artwork, there is a purveying reminiscence hitting every facet of production. Nostalgia was in fact, a theme that many artist across the board in 2018 tried to invoke. Somehow this trend burrowed a deep hole in the mainstream scene last year, as artists, many perhaps worried about their legacies, others certainly pushed by mere influence, chose to dive headfirst in this hole. Unfortunately, their nostalgia wasn’t genuine, it came as an invocation for its own sake. So when I say that “Farmarama“ is nostalgic, please don’t confuse it with that.
AMCA are oldschool, and the genres they play around in are oldschool, too. However, at their heart, they are still innovators. And they don’t worry about legacy because they’re not dead yet.
When you look at Rodgers and Jones in the promo shots for the album, photographed in black and white inside some sort of decrepit casino, you may automatically think that they are in a different era. The thing is, they are not, and they make no attempt at hiding it. In fact, they are actively presenting us with a concatenate, living reality. AMCA approaches the past as more than a pit of emotions from which a hungry audience should draw empathy, their interest in the past is authentic, and stands in direct correlation with wanting to say something new.
As such, Rodgers and Jones crafted an album based on a serial blend of diverse musical styles, which reside somewhere in between sonic mediation and dance tranquility, synth rock and new wave, acid jazz and balearic house. The great beauty of the mélange in “Farmarama“ is that listeners can be inspired to find their own moments of unwitting connections with holly artists of the past. In Mountains and Waterfalls, amongst the tropical feel emanating from beats and melodies, Rodgers enunciates her lyrics in a way incredibly reminiscent of Bowie. In Top of the Lake, we find an interesting Philip Glass-esque, minimalist instrumental arrangement fused with an ethereal vocal summons that wouldn’t be entirely out of place if paired with “Koyaanisqatsi”. Then if we look at Tic Toc, personally my favorite track, from the jump you may be reminded of Miles Davis’ electric, psychedelic phase - think Recollections from the “Big Fun” album - through the reverie and distant resounding tones shaped on top of uneasily rhythmic drum beats. However the jazzy connection doesn’t last long, as it’s thwarted around the two minute mark by the introduction of a bass line very similar to the one in We the People - A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 hit. And if that wasn’t enough, wait until four minutes in, when an oriental breakdown smacks you right in the face.
Even so, “Farmarama isn’t just an assemblage of diversity. At its core, AMCA are drawing from their own musical roots in order to create a more broadly accessible manifestation of balearic music. They promote self reflection in an attempt to expand the boundaries of a genre that is sometimes too idealized to evolve.
Take Paul Valery at the Disco for example, a track that welcomes in you with a very dystopian vibe, perhaps as an expression of what awaits those content on avoiding change. As much peace as they may find, they avoid the chaotic rhythms of innovation. Slowly but surely the track begins to open up, lyrics talking about loosening bodies, “the constant rocking of the reckoning”, and a "wild, shinning dance of the circus” point towards this necessity of disarray. Nothing highlights this more than the ironic title, which places the famous French philosopher-poet inside the feral scenes of a discothèque. The announced reckoning finally comes, and one of the grooviest beats on the record establishes the dance foretold, the mastery made possible only through a methodic and constant reinvention and mixing of genres.
“Farmarama“ is born out of a mature union of individuals who understand themselves fully as artists and have complete awareness of where they want to take their music. Truly comprehending the sheer level of work put in by Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones in their proficiency of style, allows us to dream of one day mastering our own craft the same way these two have.
True self reflection is rare, and self reflection that is shaped into artistic output is even rarer, but the great talents of the world do it, time and time again. That is why you should care, A Man Called Adam are a great talent currently displaying an acute sense of creativity unhampered by the constraints of genre.
“Farmarama“ will be released via Other Records in March 2019.