The Foreign Exchange-Call It Home/Pity

New material from this duo will always make my day. They drop the Love In Flying Colors album on 24th September, and this lead single, with it’s non-album B-side, make for a great start.

Call It Home is a smooth slice of R&B/soul, opening in a delicate manner that combines Nicolay’s airy, gentle synths with soft piano touches to good effect. The track bursts into life by throwing a quick yet relatively understated percussion line underneath the aforementioned melodic elements, along with a sharper synth line that adds a lively electronic edge. Phonte’s vocals are wonderfully mellow throughout, playing off the relaxed elements well whilst tempering the more upbeat pieces of the production, rounding off the track nicely.

Pity, the B-side, is a much more consistently laidback affair. The backdrop contains very little percussion for the first two-thirds, meandering along at an easy pace via synths that create a night time vibe, but with a cold, atmospheric edge- compared to the above track, it’s much more structured and less dynamic, and hence it allows Phonte’s vocal and lyrical work to be spotlighted a little more, which is wise given its rather emotional nature. TFE have a habit of making music that suits winter excellently, and with those cold months drawing near, these two fit the bill brilliantly. That album can’t come soon enough.

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The Foreign Exchange-So What If It Is

So What If It Is” is The Foreign Exchange’s new single from their “+FE Music: The Reworks” remix compilation. Spanning 2 discs, the set features remixes from Nicolay, Zo! 4hero, ?uestlove & James Poyser, and serves as a primer for The Foreign Exchange’s long-awaited 4th LP, Love In Flying Colors.

One of my go-to acts when I’m in a new music dry period, and they solve both problems with some brand new work. The production’s distinctly more electro-infused than their previous works, combining uptempo percussion with bright synths and lively electronic samples, whilst Phonte’s vocals are certainly uplifting throughout. His lyricism still retains a touch of bittersweetness for that grounded quality, and this is a nice change of pace from their usual works that comes off very well. Maintaining a sense of chillout within the otherwise busy backdrop, Nicolay’s served up a production that hovers a line that’s so difficult to master, and the overall combination is a likeable effort that sets their forthcoming projects up nicely.

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OTU Presents: The Winter EP: Volume 1

My love of ‘winter music’ has been far from secret here on OTU, and several discussions with music fans of various tastes have led me to believe many OTU readers share that appreciation.

We’re all about satisfying the fans, so welcome to our new 5-part feature. Each edition features a selection of tracks that are taior made for the dark winter period, and in keeping with OTU’s diversity code, expect some old tracks, some modern tracks, with a vast range of genres represented (in no particular order either; for example, Vol. 1 doesn’t necessarily have all of the best tracks!)

Just to really drive those frosty vibes home, we’ll even provide you with fresh, original artwork for each ‘EP’ for you to download at your pleasure and finish off those playlists. Kind aren’t we? Without further ado, click below for 5 tracks to get your winter started.
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The Foreign Exchange-The Last Fall Video

Undoubtedly my favourite track from their Authenticity album, this is one video that is absolutely worth watching irrespective of your opinion (or probable lack thereof) on their music.

Working with a track that combines an uplifting production with introspective, reflective lyrics, the video goes in an entirely different direction with a progressively uneasy vibe that details the unravelling of a besotted man. The story is extremely captivating throughout, as the lead male’s obsessiveness and addiction slowly consume more of his daily life, and drives him to a shocking conclusion.

Despite its seeming incongruence with the original vibe of the lyrics, it can be interpreted in various ways. The relationship between the two may represent love itself, in two different processes: either attempting to recover from heartbreak perenially ‘stalking’, until it finally destroys you, or attempting to find love but without success, and internally abandoning the thought/concept entirely. Definitely worth a watch, on both a surface level and if you’re a bit weird like me and want to go a bit deeper! Don’t miss out on that Authenticity album.

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The Foreign Exchange-Authenticity Video

Massive fan of their recent album, and picking the title track as their next video is definitely a good choice. The track itself can be best categorised as ‘night time music’, and much like the rest of the album the light synths synergise with Phonte’s relaxing vocals to create a smooth, extremely replayable piece of soul/hip-hop crossover music.

The video is very enjoyable too, following a man around who seemingly can’t escape his promiscuous tendencies, despite having flashes of thoughts and desires to do so. It’s this schizophrenic nature that makes the audio-visual a compelling effort, and the video certainly fleshes out the audio with a torn character clearly displaying the nuances of the lyrics.

Nice twist at the end too, and this is one you should definitely check out for both the track and the video.

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The Foreign Exchange-Maybe She'll Dream Of Me

First off, buy their album Authenticity right now. It’s another fantastic effort, and probably just as good as Leave It All Behind. The addictive blend of soul, hip-hop and chillout is absolutely irreplicable and a great listen at this time of year.

Their music has always had a very seasonal, naturalistic feel and that’s well represented in this video with dream scenes taking place in a variety of natural environments. Phonte’s raps tend to add a slight urban sensibility, and that too is represented appropriately by relevant scenery. The highlight for me would be the first verse, which reflects the lyrical messages into the video well by visualing Phonte’s pride issues with sand entrapment creating a distance between his loved one and himself.

Decent video for a very good song. Audio can be grabbed here, and I fully recommend buying this album!

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The Foreign Exchange-Maybe She'll Dream Of Me

Shortly after announcing details of their upcoming album, Phonte and Nicolay let loose of the first official single from Authenticity. I hope by now you’ve taken the time to get familiar with them, because I’m going to be pushing the hell out of this project, such was the strength of their last album.

This track picks up from where the aforementioned album left off, delivering a slow, contemplative and easygoing production that allows Phonte’s ever-versatile vocals to cross those R&B/soul/hip-hop boundaries seamlessly. Lyrically, the track has a frank honesty that is admirable, highlighted by the insecurity and vulnerability of the hopeful hook.

The key of their music that keeps me coming back is the knack for making music that is uniquely seasonal: it tends to evoke images of autumn (fall) and winter, which comfortably lets you drift away with your thoughts, and all without being remotely depressive. A rare blend that is nothing short of a great experience.

The Foreign Exchange-Maybe She’ll Dream Of Me

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The Foreign Exchange Announce Authenticity Album

Very, very excited about this album. Their previous effort, Leave It All Behind, was without question one of the albums of 2008 and still gets playtime to this very day. The immensely original and versatile blend of chillout, R&B, hip-hop, electronic and soul made for a fantastic body of work and is essential listening.

The new album is due out in October, almost exactly 2 years to the day the previous album was released. The tracklist can be viewed after the click: for fans of LIAB, you’ll be pleased with the features as they include a couple of the features on that album.

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