SoulTracks reviews 'Glaciers'
The music man behind much of the signature tones that have come to define The Foreign Exchange (+FE) sound continues his alchemist trick of making instrumental electronic music feel organic for laypeople who swear they don’t care for electronic music. Following a tradition initially established in jazz by artists like Miles Davis and in soul by Stevie Wonder’s experimentations in Songs in the Key of Life (peaking in the woefully underrated In A Square Circle), manipulating electronic music to distill the innate robotic coldness of its confines to cultivate something emotional and resonating is a hard row. Most lean into the coldness, creating music that stretches from the industrial and dystopian to the nihilistic and metallic.

Indie-soul collective Foreign Exchange plays the Cat's Cradle (via The News & Observer)
It seems like only yesterday Phonte Coleman was just a North Carolina rapper/singer, one-third of the up-and-coming hip-hop trio Little Brother. Back then, Coleman was also exchanging music files with an Internet help desk employee and aspiring producer in the Netherlands (Matthijs “Nicolay” Rook), hoping the two could make music together.

Phonte and Nicolay remain focused on The Foreign Exchange (via Creative Loafing)
With their fifth studio album, Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey, The Foreign Exchange has perfected its sophisticated take on R&B, incorporating not only a range of sticky sweet melodies, but also a smattering of nuanced romantic themes like domesticity and compromise. But whatever you do, don't call it ''grown man music.''

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A new song and dance for The Foreign Exchange (via Creative Loafing Atlanta)

by +FE on December 3, 2008 at 7:28 AM · Comments
Rapper/singer Phonte is a little nervous, though getting him to admit it takes some coaxing. Yes, he's toured the world for years as one half of the acclaimed rap group Little Brother, but this is the first time that he's ever toured with Nicolay, the Dutch producer with whom he makes up the genre-bending group Foreign Exchange. And even more notable, this is the first time that he's singing the entire way through.

"Nervous? Come on, fam," he exclaims, before laughing and finally succumbing. "Nah, there's always a bit of nervousness. This is literally the first time [Nicolay and I] have ever played together, like ever," he stresses. "But I'm beyond certain we'll do a great job."

His certainty is well founded. When he and Nic first met on Okayplayer.com about seven years ago, they didn't imagine that their cyber-spawned musical relationship would resonate with listeners the way that it has. Phonte was a cipher-approved rapper and Nicolay an obscure producer from overseas, but the chemistry between the two was, and still is, undeniable.

"He's one of the people I trust to do anything," Phonte says. "If he's like 'Yo, I'm about to do a polka track,' I know it's gonna be a hard ass polka track."

While their first album, 2004's Connected, found them relying largely on their hip-hop roots, their follow-up Leave It All Behind paints a completely different picture. The record draws on sprinklings of jazz, downtempo, electronica and soul. Blame it on their willingness not to give a damn about "the rules."

"We just wanted to make music that we liked," says Nicolay, who also has an album out with DJ Jamad, Afro Collabo Vol. 1. "We knew that there would be a little bit of a discussion [because] there's a lot less rapping on the new record, but I'm just happy that a lot of people understood our need to take it where we took it."

The euro may be worth more than the dollar, but Foreign Exchange is equal parts good money.

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