Fruit Merchant launches, straight outta northside Mancunia and fresh with the city's DIY spirit - a brand new venture from Hidden Spheres and friends. Not content simply existing solely as a record label, Fruit Merchant aims to become a pivotal musical and artistic movement in the city, holding cutting edge events and driving Manchester's burgeoning, homegrown art movement through its subterranean venue and community hub. Here, Fruit Merchant proprietor and regular to Lobster Theramin, Rhythm Section and Hidden Hawaii, Hidden Spheres introduces the sonic flora of his enchanted new world by way of "Wonders Of The Rainforest", an EP that both details the multifaceted skills of one of MCR's most treasured recent upstarts whilst paying tribute to an environment that, although a million miles away from our concrete jungle, seems more relevent than ever due to the impending threat of climate change and our critical-level resource drain. Each track on "Wonders Of The Rainforest" contains samples from a 1970s documentary of the same name, The tropical rain forests of the world are home to nearly half the animal species on earth - an estimated five million different life forms. More than 100 inches of rainfall each year sustain this lush environment, where some of the most fascinating examples of natural adaptation can be found. Fascinating and thought-provoking, the film is an eloquent warning of the natural wonders we stand to lose on a world scale if human encroachment of the world's rain forests continues.'' Thankfully, although highlighting the importance of the documentary, the EP's mood is somewhat brighter - revealing to us the lush and lavish fruits that could truly be ours if we only took more care with nature. Opening with the steady beat and intrepid exploration of "Forest Soil", HS takes us by the hand and into the undergrowth in. Powered by a mechanized vintage drum pattern and decorated with resplendent pad and flute melodies, there's a rich musicality which connects the biotic with the synthetic in exotic and wistful ways. Allowing our first rest-stop of the expedition, the A-side concludes with a delightfully charmed reprise, the previous track's evocative melodies breezing in over the canopy in a heady, tropical flux as we set up our hammocks and take in the surroundings. A secret Balearic gem for those that dig deep, and thankfully detached enough from civilization as to remain just that. "Sapodilla" announces the second leg of the journey with intent as a melee of jungle perc and tribal rhythms hurries us through the wilderness while a distant xylophone melody hints at another entheogenic reward on the horizon. "Lianas" sees us revel in the delights of a truly spiritual trip, gentle piano flurries contrasting beautifully against a conga solo with so much personality it's practically calling out to the rest of the forest. Tom's familiar bass sound makes a welcome return, the unbreakable footwear throughout the trek that's kept us safe and secure as the track's lively brass notes and organ licks pick out a lost-in-the-singularity oneness that every land mammal should experience at least once during their existence.
Fulfilled and contented, the Fruit Merchant leaves us to relax, reflect and recharge in our new environment, a precarious and finite land of beauty that, if cherished and adored will offer up its goodness time and time again.
STAFF COMMENTSMatt says: The darling of MCR's underground, Tom Hidden Spheres reaffirms the city's DIY ethos as he kick starts a true labour of love - Fruit Merchant. Lots of stuff in the pipeline from this homegrown firm but for now, feast on the "Wonders Of The Rainforest"; a veritable buffet of exotic sounds underpinned with a lush musicality and gentle house propulsion.