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Artist: Fila Brazillia Album: Black Market Gardening

Year: 1996
Duration: 1:04:12

Unearthing the Gems: A Critical Review of Fila Brazillia's Black Market Gardening Album

Fila Brazillia, the iconic electronic band from the UK that reigned in the 90s and early 2000s, has cast a spell on music enthusiasts of all kinds, with their genre-defying soundscapes and glitchy electronica. Black Market Gardening, their acclaimed album, which came out in 1999, is still considered their finest work. In this review, we'll dive into the history of the band, the genre of the album, the standout tracks, and a critical analysis of the album's highs and lows.

Fila Brazillia is a collaboration between Steve Cobby and David McSherry. The two met when they were teenagers and bonded over their love for punk, jazz, and electronic dance music. They played together in several bands before forming Fila Brazillia in the early 90s. The duo's approach to music-making was unconventional and experimental, with a keen ear for sampling and manipulating sounds from different sources. Their earlier works were rooted in ambient dub, but with each album, they pushed the boundaries of their sound, incorporating jazz, funk, and world music elements. Black Market Gardening marked a significant shift in their sound, with a heavier emphasis on breakbeats and trip-hop rhythms.

The album Black Market Gardening opens with the track Bumblehaun, which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The song is a frenetic blend of breakbeats, chopped-up vocal samples, and weird, off-center melodies. Airlock Homes follows suit with a slower, more contemplative mood, with its lush basslines and flirty guitar riffs. We Build Arks is an entrancing track that features hypnotic drum patterns, spacey keyboards, and a heady mix of samples. A Zed and Two L's is one of the album's most radio-friendly tracks, with its jazzy horn section, funky bass, and catchy vocal hooks. The album closes with the epic President Chimp Toe, a slow-burning trip-hop masterpiece, with a cinematic, widescreen sound.

Black Market Gardening is a frenetic album, with a jittery, nervous energy that pervades its music. The textures and sounds are kaleidoscopic, always shifting, and mutating. Yet, despite the sonic overload, the album retains a distinctive warmth and playfulness that sets it apart from its contemporaries. The music is not afraid to be weird and strange, but it's done with a sense of humor and joy. There are moments of pure beauty (the haunting The Green Green Grass of Home) as well as moments of pure madness (the manic Big Saddle). However, there are a few missteps on the album, such as the lackluster The New Cannonball, which is filler material and doesn't bring anything new to the table.

In conclusion, Black Market Gardening is an album that showcases Fila Brazillia at their creative peak. The album is a testament to the duo's ability to fuse different musical genres and experiment with sound in a way that is both engaging and challenging. Even though the album is over two decades old, its music still feels relevant and fresh, demonstrating the timeless quality of the band's artistic vision. If you're a fan of electronic music, trip-hop, or just want to explore an artist that broke the mold, Black Market Gardening is an essential listen.