Spanning 41 minutes, the sprawling long-form body of work incorporates ambient, electronic hip-hop, sample-heavy dubstep and full-blown vocal pop to explore and reflect a pensive and challenging two years.
The 10 tracks were all written in two weeks of lockdown, serving as a moody yet capturing reminder of times we’ve experienced.
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“I woke myself up at 9, went straight to the desk, and sat there all day, going for a walk around lunchtime and I did that for just over 2 weeks,” explains Front Bench - aka Richard Byers.
“That period gave me the skeleton of the album and then I sort of just listened and tweaked for a while after that. It was basically just a stream of consciousness, trying not to think too hard about what I was doing and what it meant.”
“I feel like club producers are quite easily held in by constant EPs and singles, and albums are the best way of expressing yourself fully as an artist. The whole flow and shape of a long record, its big moments and little interludes: the overall story, if you like, is something I think is at risk from people assuming it’s just for rap or rock music.
“I don’t know if it’s because of this ‘two-minute track’ culture that we’ve got now, or whether people don’t want to do them (or maybe I’m just missing them!), but we need to look after albums,” he goes on to explain.
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‘Comme Des Garçons’ is an experimental shift for both Front Bench and 199, which has a mission statement rooted in the club.
With an initial focus on fierce, dance-floor focused music, the last 18 months has seen the imprint draw inspiration from artists in other spheres and has pushed into a softer, more vocal sonic space - with the debut album release reflecting this progression.
“The main thing, from the label’s perspective, is that we ride this style shift and sign some artists,” Byers explains. “I really want to work with people on albums of their own, and give them a platform to release them: and if anyone likes the sound of the album and wants to reach out, we’re always open.”
‘Comme Des Garçons’, an album by Front Bench, is available now on 199. Check it out here.
Niamh Ingram is Mixmag’s Weekend Editor, follow her on Twitter