JAKE FAIRLEY with the UNCUT , ADAM MARSHALL , DEREK PLASLAIKO and 1/2-INCH NO DICK at the Revival (783 College), Friday (September 3). $12 advance, more at the door. 416-535-7888. Rating: NNNNN
When I first met Jake Fairley, we were the only two techno freaks in our circle of garage rock friends.
You don't know how many times various Deadly Snakes members reluctantly sat through live sets by Fairley in dives all over Toronto. After years of slaving away in his basement, he finally made some contacts in the actual techno scene when Jeremy P. Caulfield (formerly known as Lotus) stumbled on him playing live in a dingy bar.
Caulfield heard something in Fairley's sound that was fresh and different from what was coming out of Toronto's established techno scene. As a result, he made Fairley's the first release on his Dumb Unit record label, which led to a flood of Fairley releases on Dumb Unit, Adam Marshall's Killer Recordings and a handful of German labels.
What started out as almost an homage to Cologne minimalist dub has since grown into a techno/rock amalgam that's finally more in line with Fairley's childhood friends than anything he's done before.
"When I was really close to those guys, I was reacting against rock and trying to make techno for techno's sake. Maybe because of being around techno all the time now, I've ended up going the other way. This is probably the closest I've come to rock," admits Fairley from Berlin, his sometime home.
The rock thing didn't start when he moved to Germany, though. The first tastes came from his collaboration with Ian Worang as the Uncut. Featuring Fairley on vocals, guitar and programming and Worang on bass and background vocals, the band mutated last year when Fairley and Worang decided to divide and conquer.
"I was in both places all the time and needed to simplify my life. I just kept bouncing back and forth - first my career is on hold, then the band is on hold."
Worang decided to turn the Uncut into an actual rock band, and along the way lost some of the Joy Division melancholy. Fairley took that pent-up rock energy and put it into a new batch of songs highlighting a suddenly much more confident vocalist.
"I guess I'm getting better at singing. That has to happen eventually, right?" he laughs. "Seeing the Uncut onstage doing these songs isn't quite as weird as watching yourself onstage, but it's probably the closest you can get. It's funny - when Ian and I were working together, we wanted to be more rock about it, but it wasn't until we split up that either of our songs started sounding like what we imagined."
Touch Not The Cat, Fairley's new full-length album, reveals an artist who's finally settled into an identity that's honest but also unique. It's pumping, dark and almost angry in parts. That techno-blues shuffle beat that the Germans are going crazy for right now is all over the place, but in Fairley's hands it sounds less like a clumsy machine and more like a drunk and rowdy robot.