Dean Blunt: Black Metal (Rough Trade, 2014)

November 7, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dean Blunt: Black Metal

Dean Blunt: Black Metal

The male half of now-defunct duo Hype Williams continues to make strange, puzzling, post-modern music, following up last year’s confessional breakup album The Redeemer with this liner notes-free release. Graduating from Hyperdub and Hippos In Tanks to Rough Trade, this is in some ways his most “indie” sounding release (just catch the Pastels and Big Star samples), and there’s plenty of chiming guitars here. The majority of the tracks here are short and sketchlike, with Blunt’s voice singing a few lines over looped samples and drums, and then the song just fading out and moving on to the next one. I never noticed this before, but I’m just realizing now that his music reminds me of Basehead, but way more arty. The presence of a female vocalist who is not Inga Copeland sort of reminds me of basically any Tricky album since he broke up with Martina Topley-Bird; there’s just a sort of disconnect and it’s not the same. That said, get a few tracks into this album and there’s some lovely stuff here. “Molly & Aquafina” is a gorgeous ballad with direct, hard-hitting lyrics (“you’ll never be the one I want you to be, because I know that person is me”), a lone guitar in the background, and the reassuring repeated line “I don’t worry ’bout nothing.” The centerpiece of the album is 13-minute “Forever”, a trudging dub piece with late-night sax, delicate guitar, and a few noise bursts which are integrated into the rhythm. The music here sounds pretty canned, just really generic keyboard pre-set sounds, but that doesn’t detract from it at all, it actually elevates it in a strange way. There’s some vocals in the beginning, and they work really well and you expect them to continue, but then the rest of it is so hypnotic that you kind of forget about the vocals. “X” is another long track (9 minutes this time) and starts out with a few minutes of synth drone before vocals, beats, bass guitar, and more pre-set keyboard sounds come in. It has more of that oddly disconnected duet feel, with Dean repeating “you’re fucking with a holy man”. “Punk” is not punk but reggae, with a solid beat and bassline and a bit of Rasta scatting in between Blunt’s nonchalant verses. “Country” is definitely not country, but weird circuit-bent noise and Mac volume control sounds. “Hush” is a minute-long track with grime-style rapping along with a prismatic loop and smooth jazz sax, and this leads into “Mersh”, another subdued grime/dub influenced song with a skeletal rhythm and similarly sparse usage of vocals. “Grade” brings a lot of elements of the album together for the album’s final 5 minutes; grand keyboards, sax, ethereal female vocals, stuttering electronic drums, and stonefaced grime vocals, ending the album on a much different note than the folkier songs it began with. You feel like some sort of transformation has happened, but trying to figure out exactly what has happened will take me way too long to figure out and I want to get this review done so this CD can be available for WCBN airplay as soon as possible.

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