John Talabot’s Fin opens with a quiet halo of evocative nighttime sounds – owls, crickets, croaking frogs. It evokes a David Attenborough-narrated nature film, and is definitely not the intro one might expect from a house DJ based in Barcelona, let alone a guy who grabbed so many ears with a song called “Sunshine.” The mist-filled seven-minute song that emerges from this dark bog, called “Depak Ine,” an inscrutable reference to the seizure medication Depakote, gathers force like a nagging doubt, accruing melodic force and rhythmic layering as it goes.
It is the first of the 11 consecutive welcome surprises that comprise Fin, a record that quietly upends whatever narrative expectations you assign to it at every turn. If you heard the first single, the fleetly throbbing “Destiny,” and expected a record full of moody Depeche Mode-aping synth pop, you will hit a big red Stop sign the second the following track, a motionless, melted pool of sound called “El Oeste,” begins. I have listened to it 30 times or more so far this year already, and my memory still hasn’t quite nailed down the track listing’s pretzel logic – always a good sign.