Last Dance

Fatal Exception is Radio Free America's best -- and possibly final -- album

"He actually came to me," Seven says about Daggrr. "He was like, 'Look, you've been working on Fatal Exception for so long, the concept's been around for so long, I'm gonna be sick if you don't make it. If you just finish writing the songs, I'll produce it.'"

"I saw my friend struggling and being unhappy," Daggrr says. "I saw he was bummed out, and at the time I decided I wanted to be a producer and work with other people. Up until that point, I'd only done stuff for myself. So I said to myself, 'I'll produce this guy's album as a friend, and make it the best thing I can.'"

That was early summer of 2003, and Fatal Exception was finally completed in late 2004. It's a monstrous, emotional, and clever album full of pummeling dance tracks and a few equably danceable ballads. It's also the most unique and explorative electronic album to be released by a local act in memory.

Digital underground: Eric Seven, left, and Daggrr churn out aggressive synth under the Radio Free America moniker.
Peter Scanlon
Digital underground: Eric Seven, left, and Daggrr churn out aggressive synth under the Radio Free America moniker.

The CD kicks off with the banging "So Sexy," a tongue-in-cheek paean to a goth girl getting ready for a night out on the town. That segues into "Believe," the track Seven and Koerner originally released back in 1998, which is a cynical 180 degrees from Cher's club hit of the same name. Seven attacks religion on "Give In," a slower digital assault on the ears where he proclaims, "Oh, but this is not the way/I will not give in to you/You're as lost as I/In everything you do."

In producing the full-length, Daggrr created layers of digitized riffs, subtle bleeps, and arpeggioed melodies among the complex rhythms and breakbeats that make the album so goddamned danceable. He pares it down where appropriate as well, like on "Falling Into You," a despairing love ode. Later, on "It Could All Be Yours," Seven sums up his modus operandi -- "I'm nothing if not cynical and jaded" -- but laments a lost love that still tears at him. On Fatal Exception, Seven's finally sculpted his digital masterpiece.

But he swears that if it doesn't blow up beyond the confines of the Valley, he's done wasting his time with music. Given the amount of heart and soul he poured into Fatal Exception, it's hard to believe, but his logic makes sense. "I'm in a unique position where I make a good enough living, I buy property, I'm into money. This is a hobby. I don't need a record deal, but I'd love a record deal to get my shit heard. I want it to be on the radio." To that end, he's focusing on Europe as the ideal market for his music, given Europeans' more enthusiastic response to dance music.

RFA will begin playing shows at the end of this month, with a CD release party at Hollywood Alley in Mesa on Friday, January 28. They'll gig out, and send out promotional copies of Fatal Exception, but outside of that, Seven is exhausted by music at this point. "Right now I'm at the end of a four-year process, and I'm fuckin' drained, man. I don't want to think about music for all of 2005. I want to try and sell this shit. This album is good enough that there's somebody out there -- I haven't met them, I don't know who they are -- but if they heard it, they'd go, 'Wow, I want to pick that up.' For the first time in my life, I feel like I've written an album full of songs and none of them are throwaway. I'm at an apex."

E-mail brendan.kelley@newtimes.com

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