FZY – Act 3: The Buried – Album Review
Way back in 2016, I first ran into this odd entity known as FZY in reviewing a track called “Whatever Waits Above” and basically claimed my allegiance & spot on this dude’s bandwagon from the drop of day one. Over the years, I continued to stand by this guy as one of the best of the best in the underground circuit – he put out two records in 2019 which could have both easily cracked our top 10 list of the year, one of which we finally managed to settle on for an official nomination, for his work on his album Act 2: Frozen Youth, just slightly edging out how attached I was to his other record from that year called The Bunny And The Cub. It’s a fact – I’m a major FZY fan, and I’ve made zero attempts to hide it, ever. Last year, we experienced the man take his skills into the Metal arena, in what you could kinda assume might be the prequel to this new record that’s just come out according to numerical sequence – we rocked with Act 3: The Preacher, taking in a whole different side of what the man’s music provides.
And then…complete and utter silence. Sometimes that happens.
He’s reclusive…I try not to spook him or scare him away. Being his number-one Stan, I know the man just slightly well enough to know he appreciates what we do, and the last thing I’d honestly ever want/need is every single artist or band to confirm they even read what I write…hell, even earlier this week I posted up someone’s 5 year anniversary on something I wrote long ago, and found out they just read it for the first time – like I said, it happens. In my world, you get completely used to the silence, and sometimes you even welcome it – let’s face facts…not everything I have to say is always going to be the number one thing people wanna hear…I’ve long accepted that and proudly sleep soundly the same way every night. But with FZY…I dunno y’all…something about that space in between whenever we see & hear him last and the next time that always makes me extremely uneasy the longer it gets. If you’ve listened to his music and the grim themes he’s so often willing to explore, believe me when I say, it often makes ya wonder if the last time WAS the LAST time – you feelin’ me? Ultimately the dude’s so fuckin’ far ahead of the rest of the game that I feel a kinship to the man & what I can only imagine is daily frustration in wondering if the world is ever gonna catch up enough to keep him interested in it all.
And so silence…with FZY…worries the fuck outta me, even though I know there’s an even better chance he’s probably just holed up in his bunker down below the earth somewhere, working on new music. I know what you’re thinking…why not just look the guy up online right? I’ve got all the links don’t I? You’d be surprised at what comes & goes out there on the internet folks…one minute I look I can find him, the next I’m down the rabbit-hole again trying to remember how to track him down; he’s elusive, he’s mysterious, he’s unpredictable – all of these things I love, but DAMN YO – finding an artist with nothing more than a moniker consisting of three letters don’t always make it EASY on an old guy like me.
All that being said, it’s like a straight-up hit of musical crack whenever the guy reappears on my playlist. Not only do I know that I’m likely in for another killer record that’s innovative and ridiculously skillful – but in the process of simply receiving that new music, also comes along confirmation that FZY is still out there somewhere, alive & thriving. That’s the kind of comforting knowledge that really DOES help me sleep at night, I ain’t gonna lie to ya. FZY is an all-star in my universe; my world honestly wouldn’t be the same without him and my speakers would be sorely lacking the creativity they constantly crave so much.
He’s got seventeen tracks on Act 3: The Buried, but he’s moving QUICK with the vast majority of these songs actually being less than two-minutes in length. Almost the opposite of Act 3: The Preacher in that aspect, and a few others that I’ll point out along the way as well, including that notably, FZY has shifted his gears back to the Rap/Hip-Hop realm. Hybrid in sound, always, but hittin’ them bars like the man was born to do – I’m all about this man on the m-i-c, and hearing him light it up on the opening cut called “Rewritten Victims” instantly brought back that classic frantic & frenzied delivery of one of the scene’s very best, while musically, you can hear him sliding out from where the last record left us more or less, and onward we plunge straight into the new material. You feel that unsettling, uneasy, and eeriness creep into the beginning of “Rewritten Victims” – FZY’s intensity never lets the clouds subside, only build, brew an even larger storm of emotions, and with every bar that he spits, he navigates the fine line between his own madness and insanely relevant thoughts you might even relate to yourself. At 3:33, he starts out Act 3: The Buried with what’s actually its lengthiest cut – and as you’d expect, he uses that time to his advantage, with a barrage of details coming fast & furious throughout track one’s tale.
“Frozen” gives you a much better idea of what you’re in-store for when it comes to the design of this record – we’re talking about real short cuts that hit real hard. Are you gonna want MORE of just about…well…everything? Likely, YES – but y’aint gonna get it, so enjoy what you got like I have been. I ain’t gonna lie to ya – “Frozen” is a fairly risky cut to have up front in some respects; it’s pretty much guaranteed to separate those out there that can hang with what FZY comes up with and those that can’t – and all within a minute & seven. Think of it almost like…like if Primus had a Hip-Hop moment for a second…it’s like FZY’s tapped into the madness of something akin to the bizarreness that band has, or in specific tunes like “Mr. Krinkle” or “Bob” from Pork Soda back in the day…”Frozen” has a real fuck-all-the-rules-I’m-just-gonna-do-MY-thing vibe to it. Obviously that’s tougher for the Top-40 crowd – but for the rest of us freaks, FZY included, I’m sure we’re all 100% okay with trading obviousness for ingenuity.
Having these short bursts come out so tightly like the forty-two second long “Within Smiles” puts the focus on the poetry the man brings to his material. If you’re paying close attention to what he’s got to say to ya, you’ll find plenty of insightful thoughts running through just about everything FZY does to some degree – “Within Smiles” is a solid example of how quickly he can make his point & presence felt. He’ll take on the fake-ass nature of the way most of us are in the way we interact with each other, and pretty much call us all out at some point in the process. What’s “Within Smiles” when you’re passing’em out, or receiving’em for that matter – chances are, you’ve been on one end or the other of a couple of serious disingenuous moments in this lifetime – just so happens FZY’s got the cojones to call it like it is. He’ll revisit a similar idea & build on these themes through “Impersonate” down the road too.
“Use Observation” (see above concerns in my intro) – these are the kind of tracks where FZY honestly excels big-time in trying to relate the multiple scattered thoughts in his dome through the microphone. You’ll hear it ain’t easy, even though he makes it sound like it – when it comes right down to it, like much of what FZY does & represents through the layers of vocals that tend to show up in his material, he’s wrestling with a fuckin’ highway’s worth of traffic in his mind trying to race outta him & multiple competing voices in his head. FZY raps in a way that sounds like he’s literally just a slight fraction ahead of his own thoughts – and it’s the genuine intensity he brings so consistently that makes this method & approach completely connect. “Some people lookin’ for love, others lookin’ for blood” – #truth. Crushin’ it – “Use Observation” ends up creating impressively serious sound through what’s actually a fairly more bare-bones list of ingredients used in comparison to many of the other cuts you’ll find on this record. Like a great chef, it ain’t just about what you’re using but how you use it – tracks like “Use Observation” speak strongly on FZY’s behalf & ability to generate maximum impact even when using a more minimalistic approach. As a result, this track sounds much larger than you’d probably expect it to be.
“I guess it’s about time” – “To Rationalize?” We can only hope homie. FZY takes a beat, then detonates into an explosion of thoughts, many of which apply to him, many of which likely apply to you as well. Energy and intensity becomes key here – “To Rationalize” keeps a gnarly distortion snarling through the background, rumbling the low-end and your family pictures off the wall; it’s a short cut, but savage from start to finish. Solid psychedelic layer added in via the old-school atmospheric Floyd-esque keys in the mix for ya as well; the bottom line is, you’ll be surprised by the audible enormity FZY creates in less than ninety seconds time. “To Rationalize” comes in to stomp out your speakers, does that, and then leaves.
Don’t underestimate the man when it comes to the music either though…he’s magic on the mic, but don’t get caught sleepin’ on what makes his tracks great overall. LISTEN to the way he’s lighting it up in behind the vocals on “Becoming Cannon Fodder” and realize this champion has the skills required to crush it in any realm – he just generally chooses Hip-Hop as the vehicle for his poetry, thoughts, and main method of communication to this world. The guitar that is goin’ down absolutely steals the show for me on this track…and part of me wonders if people will even HEAR it! It’s not the mix, the mix is fine – it’s simply whether or not the listeners out there can take their ears off the main star of the show for two seconds long enough to appreciate the rest of what’s happening here. It’s always interesting to listen to a record straight on versus jumping right into it – and keep that fact in your back pocket, because it might explain a few thangs. You hear one song drift or shift into the next, more often than not it’ll make complete sense to your ears. Pushing play on a cut like “Becoming Cannon Fodder” as an individual cut would have you instantly wondering WTF is goin’ on! I’ll concede that in many ways, FZY is playing this particular track with a helluva lot more artistic liberties being taken & a whole lotta loose vibes goin’ on – but at the same time, I mean, you gotta respect how every inch of this lines up exactly as he’s intended to. Welcome to FZY’s world y’all – we’re just living in it. Whenever things get warped & things get weird – it’s entirely purposeful, it suits the song, and we’re powerless to stop him. He’s “just another angry motherfucker shakin’ his fist, flickin’ his wrist, slangin’ some dick” – don’t act like you don’t know how it is. Did I mention FZY’s not exactly the type to pull punches or beat around the bush?
Listen to the way he punches into the beat of “01110313” as it sparks to life! Tons of flavor in the music of this cut and exceptional uniqueness being created here all-around – it stacks up quick, as most of these cuts do – “01110313” is under that two-minute threshold, but certainly delivers on maximum entertainment. Sometimes you hear an emcee really find the right spots in the dynamics of the music & structure of a song…you know the ones…where they get that space to add the extra emphasis and weight to their words, and you can’t help but notice. “01110313” has got multiple moments like that. The piano-based melody will already make a decisively noticeable shift in sound that’ll catch your attention, but when you factor in how this cut’s beat is structured, you can hear that FZY doesn’t fuck around when it’s time to push record – the man’s rehearsed, ready, and professional when he hits the booth, and you can tell from performances like this one where he’s right in that sweet spot every time.
The attention to detail is continuously STAGGERING y’all – I’m not even kidding. As much as can be said about the man’s ability to spit rhymes at lightning speed with substantial content in-check – hearing things like the alarm clock sound chime in on cue, the sparkling twinkle on the surface, or the brilliance of the electro melody UNDERNEATH the OTHER electro melody on top…I mean…you get the idea I’m sure – FZY has loaded up tracks like “Toy Boats” to the point where it’s like unpacking a treasure chest full of gold. No doubt this track will be a huge standout for many people out there listening – you can’t help but notice the passion in the craft of a cut like this and how much would theoretically go into it. Understand y’all, FZY’s way more often than not creating every damn sound & syllable you hear – and when you factor that in to the remarkable creativity on display in “Toy Boats” and the uniqueness a cut like this has to any other you’d find out there outside of his own catalog – well SHIT folks, there’s VALUE in that, every time. For him as an artist and certainly for all of us listening as well. No joke y’all – he’s got a verifiably special cut in “Toy Boats” that’s bound to be a huge gateway in and factor that keeps people listening to Act 3: The Buried – FZY’s got this cut tweaked with just an extra degree or two of undeniable accessibility in the guitar melody…and on the strengths of that alone, this track is bound to be a favorite among listeners out there. FZY as a rapper is rarely, if ever, NOT amazing – and it’s hard to not end up taking that for granted when you listen to how consistent he’s been over the years already – so while it’s kind of a given that he’s gonna verbally slap any beat that comes his way, when he makes these more noticeable shifts in the demeanor of the tracks he’s working with, you’ll never miss it, and it ends up giving albums like this the separation you’d want in between the space of such short ideas.
Did he just say “fallacious philosophers” in the thick of his verbal barrage on “Tongue Tied?” +1 wordsmith pts, +5 additional stamina for the next round homie – that’s impressive. Pullin’ out the jazzy bass-line grooves and keepin’ it poetic in free form flow like you’ve just stumbled into the underground art club – FZY gets his beatnik on here and starts slammin’ it for ya on the m-i-c. Dude’s such a performance minded artist and it matters SO MUCH when we’re all listening out here – no one could question the level of professionalism this guy has if they’re really listening, I swear. Sure he sounds like he’s an inch away from snapping permanently all the time, or like he’s at the very least having a REAL hard time finding his parking spot & where he left his car – but it’s the fact that he can spit such complex words like it ain’t no thang that tells you he’s undeniably into the craft on every level. He finds words that stand out – and more importantly, he takes the additional time BEFORE he’s hitting record to make sure these tracks are laid out as right & tight as they can be. When it’s game time, he’s a guaranteed lock to make the magic happen. I don’t know ANY of this for a certain fact – it’s what my ears tell me. I don’t know HOW he’s still able to do what he does, even having an idea of what the blueprint or formula might be right there on paper in front of me – that’s what makes FZY superhuman & different from anyone else. No artist or band I can think of would approach their music like FZY does…the closest thing I can come up with in just thinking about it, is probably Endsightt – but even that dude’s miles away from being FZY yet…maybe one day. Time will tell, but all indications point to FZY being one of a kind.
Good God. Every single time, a new record from FZY will make me drop my jaw in awe and respect for what he’s capable of accomplishing. “Your Reflection” was that track that made these hands come straight off the keyboard for a moment, sit back again and listen every time. FZY raps with insane speed and serious clarity – he’s got no problem sayin’ whatever’s on his mind with his chest, you feel me? It’s never going to be a matter of not being able to hear what he has to say, it’s always a case of whether or not you’ve got the capacity to keep up with him when he’s ripping rhymes at full speed. Some of my favorite words here, some of my favorite guitar riffs & melody, some of my favorite ideas in the music & vocals…”Your Reflection” is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. Here’s the thing folks…and this is what separates the men from the boys when it comes to speed & the mic – speed can be a GREAT thing – hell, it’s one of the most impressive aspects of being an emcee if you can handle the bars with precision & speed – but what makes stuff like FZY even MORE impressive than a quick melodic rip through a set of verses, is that when you crack right into his words, way more often than not, you’re gonna go straight into the deep end of the lyrical pool for a big long swim, you feel me? It’s not JUST speed, it’s not JUST style – it’s SUBSTANTIAL as well – as in, loaded with substance & meaningful words. I’m not saying everyone out there should try that sometime cause genuinely, not everyone should – not everyone has the capacity to make it work – FZY does…he makes it well worth your time to go back and spin these records as many times as you have to in order to get every last word you can hear & discern.
I think it was probably just yesterday that I was writing another review where I was encouraging a different artist in the direction of really short, tight ideas without the excess bullshit – and Act 3: The Buried is pretty much a highlight example of what I was trying to communicate. Like, “Hand Tied?” C’mon y’all – this deal gets sealed QUICK – you’ll love this cut instantaneously once it kicks into full gear around the twenty-five second mark. You see the quandary we’re all stuck inside of here though as a result right? Time-wise, this record ticks forward with more intensity than an episode of 24, and you’ll be screaming DAMMIT just as much as Jack Bauer did every minute that goes by where you want your favorite moments to stay just a second or two longer than they will. I’ll take a short hell over a long suffering any day of the week though FZY, so bring it on – I’m fully armed with a repeat button and I’ve been putting it to good use over this past week in listening to this record as much as humanly possible. Spoiler alert – the hands being tied here refer to those on the clock and the sense of the grains running out in that hourglass we all love to picture metaphorically in reference to there not being enough time. FZY opens up a vein here…bleedin’ emotion and raw thoughts, barely hangin’ on…you sure as hell get the feeling that this guy feels LIFE in a whole different way than most ever will – and perhaps that’s why I enjoy it so much; no matter how devastating he can be at times, it’s always supremely genuine and relatable to me. So much of what seems to frustrate him about this world seems to affect me too – and chances are, you’ll find a point or two being made that makes a shitload of sense to you too. There are legions of us that struggle to understand how all the pieces of this planet are supposed to fit together if we’re all as 100% fucked up as we know we truly are…especially if we all acknowledged it – then what?
“Friendly Faces” probably works well enough for its length – it’s gonna be a bigger challenge than most without question when it comes to the masses out there. With its inherently warped sound, FZY basically bends space & time around you as you listen to this cut, and if you didn’t feel like you were already high before, this should fix that for ya no problemo. With its jagged structure & stuttered drums, there’s no question about what he’s going for here and whether or not it’s mission accomplished – it IS – “Friendly Faces” is SUPPOSED to melt around you like a popsicle in the summer sunshine. Does that work for ya? Does that sound like the way to entice ya in to listen folks? Am I even doing this job right? You know me – I just tell ya like it is, no matter how much I might Stan someone like FZY. I don’t NEED to tell him that “Friendly Faces” is likely the toughest sell to the masses out there – because for one he already knows that, and for two, I’m sure he couldn’t possibly give one tenth of a shit about it. Would I have cut it out of this lineup? I might have been tempted about as much as I would have been with “Becoming Cannon Fodder” earlier on – but in the end, why would ya? Because they’re SLIGHTLY more fringe cuts than the other fringe cuts on a fringe record like this is? That don’t make no sense yo. No harm in blasting out a ton of ideas in this short form collage of a record he’s got goin’ on here; I’m not gonna be the guy to say “Friendly Faces” furthers this story, but it definitely doesn’t hurt it either.
The subtleties in this guy’s work have been, and are, brilliant. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya from the get-go, he’s MILES ahead of the rest of us…it’s not hyperbole, I’m not blowin’ smoke – I’m spittin’ FACTS at ya. Tracks like “Impersonate” completely prove it. If you think it’s any kind of accident that you’ll find a few layers of added modern-day vocal effects in the mix and a beefed-up twist of accessible sound, you’re the one that’s crazy, not him. The flashy & sparkling sound of “Impersonate” is 100% intentional – and quite likely, it’s that tongue in-cheek lampooning of the entire realm of Pop-based personalities and celebrity culture…almost more over the top than you’d ever expect from FZY, which of course makes it the perfect twist for him to throw right in there, like a wrench in your salad. The PROBLEM – oh yes, the PROBLEM that he’s gonna have to reckon with one day, is just how amazing these moments tend to be. I’ve pointed this out somewhat before in reviews discussing cuts like “Glen Lantz” or “Colleen Stan” – and similar to those from an accessibility standpoint, when FZY wants to flex that universal sound atcha, he’s ridiculously more than capable. In fact, I’m all about the theory that, because FZY remains so far underground and purposely obscure…I think he’s probably just Sia in a different wig & writes Grammy songs. Alright…maybe not QUITE so dramatic or Bond-movie-esque…but you get what I mean – deep down, he’s a hell of a talented songwriter that understands completely what moves people and what connects – like a great poker player, he chooses whether or not he wants to push all-in on any given hand. Sometimes it makes sense, which it does for the case of “Impersonate” – this title is a statement that basically reflects directly on the fact that rocking a more commercialized style of vibe would feel FRAUDULENT to FZY…at least this is what I’d assume, I could be wrong. The bottom line is, there’s a million dollars and a Pepsi commercial waiting for this guy to come calling anytime he decides to – we can only cross our fingers and hope he remains rocking the mic for the greater good with his soul intact. Ain’t gonna lie though…as much as I love his innovative creativity and the ability to create stuff I’d never be able to conceive of myself…when he chooses accessibility, dude splits the arrow like he’s Robin Hood.
“Welcome Rugs” – what the hell is this guy on about now? FZY? Ground control to Major Tom bro! I’m 100% just fucking around – and I never fully know everything the guy is getting at to begin with anyhow. If I had to hazard a GUESS…and that’s ALL I’m willing to call it because my brain cannot possibly keep up to this man…but if you asked me what this track is about, I’d say it directly ties into the same themes as “Within Smiles” and “Impersonate” did somewhat. “Welcome Rugs,” to me, was entirely about being able to make a song with a sweet beat, and have it be about fucking ANYTHING, because when it comes to the masses out there, they ain’t in it to THINK – they’re in it to drink, dance, and have a good time – none of which tends to come along with anything substantial, relevant, or lasting. And if that’s the case – then WHY NOT write about the fucking mat on your doorstep? If your words fall in the forest, and no one’s around to hear it, did they ever make a sound? Echo? Bueller? You following me here folks? This is all a theory – but that’s what I’m getting out of “Welcome Rugs” – it’s a genuine middle finger to those out there that allowed music to be reduced to a catchy beat, neon vibes, and absolutely nothing more.
“011301110111” is…interesting. Once it hits that thirty-eight second mark, that massive wave of sound is so enormous and the low-end/synths is freakin’ WILD to experience, and likely, that’ll be how this cut will pull you onboard…through its insightfully produced ways, much more so than substance this time around. Ain’t nothing wrong with that – FZY does what he does and he still makes this worth the time to stick around for; much like “Friendly Faces” it’s harder to argue that this quick rhythmic verbal stroll of a couple repetitious lines is gonna further the story of the album overall, but it’s not detrimental either.
“Reminders” will likely be one of the best songs I’ll hear this year, and ultimately you kinda gotta include the follow cut that comes along with it as well. When you know what’s good & what’s great, you know; and it’s certainly coming from a reliably proven source of greatness we know has produced that very rare element in the past. FZY knows where to find the real strengths in vulnerability & the sincere side of sound – and between this cut & the way it trails right into the clarity of the final track “To Replace Remorse” revealing the man at the most vocally-naked you’ve ever heard him for a brief moment before this album is over – even this fleeting glimpse of serenity is loaded with emotion and makes a powerful statement of its own by dialing back his madness for a second or two. “Reminders” is the kind of cut that would make Post Malone say “dammmmmmmmmmmmmmn – that’s what I MEANT to be doing all along!” – and don’t get me wrong, I like me some Posty just as much as anyone else does right now. Dude’s got talent – but he’s searching for the art; FZY’s already got the advantage in that department – he might sound fucked up and confused or frustrated or damn near insane almost all of the time, but if you asked me…I’d be inclined to tell ya that there are few artists out there that have put the level of self-reflection, internal examination, sincere thought into what they do – FZY knows EXACTLY who he is. These last two cuts are essential to the album, and to each other – you could separate’em, but the flow & design is so freakin’ perfect that you’d be a fool to play these final tracks individually. “Reminders” has an absolutely spellbinding mix and incredible vibe goin’ on – a spectacularly colorful collage of sound you’d almost expect from Mogwai, nevermind good ol’ FZY here. The switch into “To Replace Remorse” dials back the music, leaving it sputtering in resistance, trying to fight its way into the mix, while FZY delivers on last set of seriously personal bars, letting you down on one last devastating note that’ll leave you with the same question I always end up asking myself once I’m finished these reviews on his music, and perhaps that’s what keeps me writing them so long…will this be the end? Will there be a next time? Does this incredible character in our music-scene go on to keep kicking, thrashing, & thriving out there? I’m always hopeful even though I feel like I’d never really know for sure…all I can tell ya is that every single time this guy has popped into my inbox, he’s brought the kind of creativity & innovation that makes LIFE worth living on this side of the speakers…and in my heart of hearts, I can only hope that deep down inside him somewhere, he feels the exact same way, and that music will always provide him with purpose, fueling him forward, whenever he needs it most, to get through the toughest of times.
Listen to more music by FZY at his official page at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5BRYHAcjGVPXQQv4raRSIS
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