Listening to “Counterfeit” by Fordmastiff is like peering into a dull throbbing memory of incandescent lights, cold city pavement, and merry crowds, and it wound up being one of my favorite albums of last year.
Fordmastiff is a Brazilian artist who seems to be one in an emerging scene of cassette tape based producers coming out of Brazil. This first release of theirs is a strange lo-fi concoction that is far too swirly and hazy to be techno or house, but too thump-y and danceable to be 100% ambient.
The production style on “Counterfeit” is interesting. It sounds grainy and lo-fi, but it doesn’t sacrifice anything to achieve this effect. Each and every moment of this album still sounds full and lively, and the soundscape is incredibly rich.
Perhaps this is Fordmastiff’s cassette tape style shining through. What really makes “Counterfeit” stand out though, is its sense of place.
This is a rare instance of abstract music coming through clearly and tangibly. We often hear ambient music as a set of ideas that can only be objectively described using a musical language; “the piece has this duration,” or “this section has this timbre,” and so on.
We can try to relate it to other abstract concepts, perhaps a mood or a color, but when we start to relate it to the concrete, we are forced to turn to our individual experiences to shape our conclusions.
What got me thinking about Fordmastiff’s vision on this album was an article from Daryl Worthington of “The Quietus” detailing his favorite cassette tape releases of the year. He spells out nearly the exact same conclusion that I had; which was that “Counterfeit” is about trying grasp at strands of memory. Maybe this is just a coincidence. However, I prefer to see this as evidence of Fordmastiff’s ability to gently guide the listener to exactly what he wants us to experience.
I experienced this album while walking under the moon and the sharp city lights. The timing was perfect. I was travelling somewhere, but I was enjoying myself so much just walking around that I took a couple of detours to finish the album. I was transported to another place. It was incredible.
Overall, I give Fordmastiff’s “Counterfeit” a strong ★★★★☆. Great album.