You have to hand it to the FarFetched collective: Alongside its ambitious release schedule of genre-blurring music and its adherence to a tightly defined visual aesthetic, the crew knows how stick to a schedule. For years now, FarFetched has used the month of January — a time usually bereft of big concerts — as a launching pad for its upcoming year, and for six years running the label has used its Prologue compilation as its opening salvo.
On the evening of January 6, inside a half-full Firebird, FarFetched celebrated the release of Prologue VI with a half-dozen of its affiliated acts taking the stage. It was an evening of collaboration and intersections: Beatmaker Centipede sat in with Blank Generation and manipulated the group's muscular rhythms, Kansas City-based instrumentalist Rick Maun performed a set of syrupy jams, and Mathias & the Pirates gave a spirited, pulsating performance that touched on themes of defiance, love and hometown pride.
For much of the collective's lifespan, the label has been content to release the bulk of its music digitally — its Bandcamp site acts as a hub for the myriad hip-hop, ambient-electro and beat-driven music released under the FarFetched aegis. For the release of this year's Prologue, the collective opted for a more modern form of distribution: a USB-ready download card with the comp's dozen tracks already loaded.
But it was another item at the merch booth that suggested a push toward permanence for FarFetched's media offerings: a chapbook of black-and-white photos of the collective's members, taken by local photographer Nate Burrell.
Darian Wigfall, the director of artist management and development for FarFetched, says that he, Burrell and label founder Damon Davis had been kicking around the idea for a few years but only committed to making it a reality in 2016. The title, Book I, hints at more such projects to come.
"I wanted to give something physical," says Wigfall. "One of the things we're focused on is the user experience. The music is good, but I want to focus on how it looks and feels for people getting introduced to FarFetched. Seeing the faces of the people when they are not on stage — I thought that was a good combination of things."
Wigfall refers to many of the people affiliated with FarFetched as "multi-disciplinary artists" and that's true, but music remains the primary focus of the outfit. For this iteration of Prologue the label heads have brought together some well-known contributors — CaveofswordS, Abnormal, Hands and Feet — while introducing some relatively new faces. Superhero Killer, the R&B/rock quartet, makes its FarFetched debut with "And Then You Came Along," and Eric "Prospect" White shows his chops as a rapper on "At the Crib." Likewise, Baqbeet, a producer who has worked behind the scenes with the collective, mixes neo-soul vibes and menacing production on the greyscale "Second Day of the Year."
Other acts on the compilation echo that eerie ambience. Centipede's "extragemstones" takes its bones from a washed-out trombone sample and laces it with an insistent kick drum and skittery snare. Mathias & the Pirates' track "Altered Beast" closes this year's Prologue with its customary blend of hip-hop noir, this time using a Vincent Price impression and Castlevania organ chords alongside contributions from Myka 9 and Abstract Rude.
Wigfall says that 2017 looks to be another busy year for the collective; early February sees the release of Reclamation II, a follow-up to the 2014 collaboration between Davis, Prospect and Basil Kincaid. Other releases include forthcoming efforts from Hands and Feet, Golden Curls, Superhero Killer and Owen Ragland, another new member of the collective.
While the collective gets plenty of submissions, Wigall says the label's brain trust is careful about who it brings onto the team. "There are a lot of people that say, 'Hey, we've got the dopest beats' — but you sound like everyone else!" Wigfall says with a laugh.
The process of shepherding new artists into the fold is an organic one. Wigfall says, "We listen to the music and if it's good and innovative, we go see your live show. If it's a good vibe, we put out your music through FarFetched."
Stream the album below: