Rainbow Chan: Fabrica EP

- On Rainbow Chan’s Bandcamp page you’ll find a little prose poem, riffing out just what exactly the title of her new EP, Fabrica, means. It’s all about the act of creation, or fabrication, if you will. Chan isn’t just talking about banging out a few tunes. This is a much bigger thing than that: she’s pulling together ideas of society, culture, language, gender, even human anatomy. You get the sense that it is, in many ways, a daunting project. As Chan points out, fabricating can mean lying and those lies can infect every single thing we’re talking about here; not only that but there’s a constant struggle between all the stakeholders: everyone, everywhere, trying to get to the top of this mountain of lies to decide which ones get to be ‘true’. In her vision Chan herself becomes the fabric, pulled and stretched in different directions. It’s little wonder, that she finishes with the declaration “I am very, very tired.

As the leftfield, r’n’b diva Rainbow Chan has become, when she’s tired -voice low, bowed over the mic, eyes heavily lidded- that’s also when she can be at her most badass. That feeling comes across here. Fabrica has slightly less of the powerful drive which seized much of last year’s Spacings LP. It’s slower, more reserved, the electro, trap beats are brittle, sparse, unfleshed. The pop sweetness is still here, but it’s mixed further back, sometimes almost hiding in the sharp, electro cracks.Lyrically that bandcamp cri de cœur can also feel a little hidden, sometimes, like on opener Let Me, which is on the surface a straight break-up song delivered via classic r’n’b. Still, it’s also a woman writing her own story. When Rainbow Chan says ‘let me’, she’s really only being polite, not actually asking: “I’ve made up my mind / And you really cannot sway me.”

Middleman does actually up the pace into a whirl of electroclash, but somehow manages to tap into a feeling of utter exhaustion thanks to Chan’s deadpan vocal and the lyrics “I have given up on fighting / Every word I say you spin.” Morally compromised or not the chorus offers a pleasantly Grimes-ish wash of vocal harmonies.

Bad Behaviour reprises much of the opener, but with a little bit more of an obvious debt to FKA Twigs. Again it teases the line between heartbreak and empowerment, perhaps most notably in the lyrics “There’s A Limit To My Love” making a bit of an ominous reply to weepy ol’ James Blake’s classic number.

The most significant song on the EP, thematically, is The Creator. Every other song here is mired in how difficult everything is: sexual politics, romance, ugh! Not this time: The Creator is an electro-pop anthem and a thoroughgoing rejection of every time a man just assumes he’s the boss. “You do not make me / Who do you think you are?” I’m really glad this song is here - there were times I wasn’t sure Chan was going to make it out of that sucking, sea of tiredness.

As if to prove that point the EP’s closer lapses back into a long coda of r’n’b and romantic complaints, titled A Lover’s Discourse. As per her own description it seems like the year since Spacings has been a challenging one for Rainbow Chan. It is as though she’s been stretched to her extreme and this EP is her slowly pulling back into shape. Nonetheless I have every expectation that the next work she fabricates will be something to behold: fighting fit or a bit bent out of shape Rainbow Chan is a really solid electropop, r’n’b artist,

- Chris Cobcroft. 

Album Details

Album Title: Fabrica EP
Artist: Rainbow Chan
Record Label: (Healthy Tapes)