FIJI“The Glue Hotel Tapes” (Impresario Records mini album)
FIJI – “4-Track Jesus” (b-side to “Pillshop” 7″ single)

I’ll always have a soft spot for Jamie Hince. As a member of indie also-rans Scarfo, Jamie made a lasting impact on me by not only replying to my letter to the band but mailing me a (gulp!) signed copy of Scarfo’s special-Christmas-record-company-only-7″-only-rare-cover-version-of-a-Fun-Boy-Three-tune “Tunnel Of Love” and a note thanking me for my support of the band. As an impressionable teen in those carefree indie days, I was bound to be impressed.

Months later, as an avid listener of Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session, I spotted that distinctive Scarfo sound on the radio and shoved a tape in to catch the new single. What followed came as a slight surprise but earned me instant notoriety among the three or four people who actually cared: Lamacq dedicated the song to me. I’d emailed him a few days earlier asking him to play the song and completely forgotten about it. Scarfo were now officially my band. They split a few months later after a lacklustre response to their album.

The legacy of Scarfo’s later work is Jamie’s new band, Fiji. Bearing an uncanny musical resemblance to Scarfo’s last recorded output, a four track Peel session, the Fiji mini album is essentially a project in bedroom tinkering, the band consisting of a solo Jamie on record with a band put together for live appearances (last thing I heard, their drummer was a 13-year-old; this may or may not have been true). Jamie is credited on the album sleeve with a mere 14 instruments, and the results would seem to suggest something of a labour of love. On “The Glue Hotel Tapes” (released late last year), Fiji manage to perform six tracks which I love and completely don’t understand. There are moments, but the album as a whole baffles me, as was the case with Scarfo’s eponymous debut mini-album. The music draws the listener in and then shoves them back violently. This album is destined to be played on repeat by anyone who gives it a try. Or maybe it’ll fail miserably, as would appear to be the more poetic outcome…

“4-Track Jesus” sounds, to put it bluntly, fucking awful. All but drowned out by tape hiss, Jamie attempts to reach some kind of spiritual understanding through repetition of the mantra “Lord, I’m not satisfied”. The sleeve the single offers no further details on the song, but a small lyric sheet (screen-printed by Jamie himself, as is the sleeve) slipped inside states: “4-Track Jesus was recorded straight to tape by Jamie Hince at Crocodile Motel and is a demo for a forthcoming release.” The terrible production values can be seen as something of an admission that the track isn’t perfect… yet. This is the sound of musical and artistic ambition. I can’t wait for what’s to come.