Recently I wrote an article on Block 16, who had recorded their Morning Sun album on Nuphonic, a sadly lamented label, that for an eight year period, released some wonderful music. After writing that article, I was looking through some of my old albums and chanced upon another album released on Nuphonic, and that is the one I am going to write about today. Having discovered this album, it was like discovering an old friend. When I played it again, I was again entranced by its subtlety and nuances, and the variety and quality of the eleven songs on the album. This album was released by Nuphonic in 2001 and is by Fug and entitled Ready For Us.

Ready For Us is an aural journey that takes you through a variety of styles of music, and on the first track, the title track, Ready For Us, is a beautiful laidback track, featuring a crystalline and ethereal female vocalist. It is a quite beautiful track, one that soothes your troubles away, and transports you to an altogether more pleasant place. The track starts proudly, as if announcing that something both beautiful and brilliant will follow. Straight away, the female vocalists sings, an acoustic guitar plays, percussion and strings can be heard, both perfectly subtle. Throughout the track, the tempo remains constant, it gently meanders along, massaging your weary soul, its beauty enveloping you. Quite simply a great start to the album.

On RFO, the tempo increases, a house beat plays and then some orchestral sounding strings accompany the drums. This is an interesting combination that proves highly effective. The strings sweep along, the drums beats constant, always keeping up, matching their tempo. When the strings disappear momentarily the drums are joined by keyboards, until the strings rejoin. Although an unusual sound and concept, it is one that works well, and the combination of strings and drums have an infectious quality, one you want to hear more of.

Thin Air is a slightly slower track, one that has a slightly darker sound at the start. Don’t be fooled though, that changes when the sweetest of female vocalist is heard. Suddenly you hear light and shade. Drums and synths produce a soundscape from another galaxy, you become mindful of space travel, traveling to a distant planet. In keeping with this, the vocal floats in the midst of the track, and is surrounded by keyboards and synths that have an otherworldly sound. Then just short of four minutes, the journey is over, you return to terra firma, pleased to have enjoyed a lovely musical journey, one you wish had lasted longer.

On Blue Movie the tempo falls, and you enter an atmospheric and moody place, where the light is not far away, teasing you gently. The sound is both broody and dramatic, the suspense and drama building. This sounds like a soundtrack to thriller that must be made, one where the plot is packed full of intrigue and drama. On the track, synths play, drums pound and strings and piano provide a dramatic backdrop, one that has you almost looking over the shoulder. Put this on at night, and turn the lights down, you’ll be scared of what lurks behind your sofa. That is the level of drama that Fug have created. Truly a masterful track, packed full of suspense and atmosphere.

Overflow starts gently, drums and guitar playing spaciously, after which that lovely vocal starts to sing. The track has a light and bright feel. Strings including, violins, cellos, violas, can be heard on Overflow. As if this is not enough, a brass section contribute, towards this track. Even though a multitude of instruments are used, the sound doesn’t seem crowded, quite the opposite, the sound is verging on minimalist. This is a remarkable achievement, and is a credit to the arranger and producer. Like the first three tracks, Overflow is another great track.

Cheval Noir see the tempo rise just slightly. Again, an acoustic guitar played beautifully, starts the track, and behind it the track meanders, contemplating building up. Quite soon, it does, the track speeds up very slightly, and the sound opens out. Crunching drums move to the front of the mix, however, they don’t overpower the sound, they add to the track, inject some life to the track. Sweeping strings then take their turn to dominate the soundscape, although the drums still compete for attention. By now the sound has filled out, and a glorious track is developing. The sound is a fusion of styles, classical music, and a contemporary feel and sound, especially with the drums and guitar. Fug have triumphed again, producing a great track.

Chunk sees the darkness descend. Drums and piano combine well to produce a broody, moody and atmospheric track. It’s a great track, one that is the polar opposite of other tracks on the album. Although dark, the sound is not depressing. It is more atmospheric, quite dramatic, full of suspense. You even find yourself wondering what will happen next. Bass adds to the dramatic and moody feel, and then the darkness lifts slightly, as keyboards play. Then the piano returns, adding to the drama. Gradually, towards the end of the track, the suspense lessens, the tension eases, you return to normal, after a journey through darkness. You feel better for this enjoyable experience.

The next track of Ready For Us is something we’ve all had, Fairweatherfriend. Unlike Chunk, the track is lighter and brighter, and feature those beautiful sweet vocals. The track has a really impressive sound, at the start, it isn’t apparent, it just sort of creeps up on you. Suddenly, you’re hooked, caught in the headlights of its beauty. There is a subtlety about the track, the sound is almost understated, as if everything else is taking a back seat, allowing the vocals to take centre-stage. A beautiful track.

The Prophet is the next track. It’s a wholly different, though equally interesting and effective track. A piano meanders, synths squelch, drums reverberate, and this repeats, the pattern occasionally changing, with the pianist being given free reign. It’s a light and airy track, on that doesn’t tax your imagination much. It allows you to sit back, and wallow in its glorious familiarity.

By now we’re nearly through the album, El Diablo is the penultimate track. Straight away you’re transported, far away, to somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere mysterious, but somewhere intriguing. The track starts with acoustic guitar plucked confidently, adding to the mystery. This builds up the atmosphere. Quickly, you wonder where am I going, whats going to happens next. Just as you’re developing a sense of unease, a joyful brass section enter stage left, and immediately set about lightening the atmosphere. Then as you’re enjoying their company, they leave you stranded, in this unfamiliar place. Suspense surrounds your destination, then suddenly, it’s over, you’re back on familiar territory. You breath a sigh of relief, and realize, that the journey was worthwhile, was one you thoroughly enjoyed.

Shrewd Movements is the final track on Ready For Us. It’s a track that has its roots in jazz music. Again, the piano and drums play a leading role, one where they’re allowed plenty of space. They’re not crowded, given room to breath. The track is quite a simple one, merely drums, piano and double bass, the latter with a supporting role. Fug have chosen a perfect track to close the album, it’s one that winds the album down. After all the musical journeys on this album, this track meanders, beautifully, to a close.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent revisiting this wonderful album. It is truly one of the hidden gems in my collection, and I’m sure is hiding in the corner of a record store near you. It’s worth having a look for, crate digging, because if you find it, you’ve found a mini masterpiece. Eleven great songs lasting fifty-one minutes, and each one brilliant. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear many different styles of music, and through time, you will discover and love, the subtlety of this album. This album will enthrall and captivate you. You’ll wish you had discovered it ten years ago, when it first came out. When your friends hear it they will envy your luck at discovering and owning such a wonderful album, one that sounds better every time you listen to it. So if you buy an album today, why not buy Ready For Us by Fug. Standout Tracks: Ready For Us, Blue Movie, Fairweatherfriend and Shrewd Movements.


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