This probably isn't the new Bathory album. Dean Blunt, previously of Hype Williams fame, is becoming one of the most singular voices and visionaries in what we would probably call 'experimental' music. He makes records that traverse genre after genre until they all diminish (seriously, though -- 'The Redeemer' is voicemail-core, with plenty of diversions into funk, vaporwave and folk). His newest work is called 'Black Metal', but continues to mix, match and create new sounds that feel both detached and intimate.
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A truly singular and unique voice, my interest in Dean Blunt was first piqued with his first solo album ‘The Narcissist II’ with its smoky oddball grooves and spoken word monologues. The fragmented ‘The Redeemer’ was possibly a curveball too far and didn’t quite hit the mark but ‘Black Metal’ is surely the album that will elevate Blunt above and beyond his underground oddity status. It’s much more realised than previous albums and whether he’s playing the lushly instrumented tracks himself, is using a band, or crafty samples this is waay more musical than anything he’s done before with massive nods towards Smog, Lee Hazlewood and even at times the cinematic sweep of Lambchop. Honestly.
This ain’t no singer songwriter pleasant ride though, it’s still…. odd, Blunt has really found his voice on this record - the previous sleepy hesitancy is there but its fuller, thicker and a more musical accompaniment than before. He often recalls Bill Callahan especially on the more guitary opening tracks. Opener ‘Lush’ is just that with a gorgeous string laden loop providing a backdrop for Blunt’s almost spoken word delivery. It’s a thrilling opening and is wonderfully short leaving you clamouring for more. From there you are straight into the twangy lollop of '50 Cent' where a strummed guitar pushed into the red and rudimentary drum machine is joined by Blunt trading vocals with an unnamed female, the effect is glorious, like some kind of sleepy stoned Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra duet. ‘100’ is a giggy, twangy triumph -all Chris Isaak guitars and under rehearsed duet’s. It will make you grin from ear to ear.
If you are concerned about Blunt going soft then get a load of ‘Heavy’ with a churning Third Eye Foundation style sample looping away, segueing beautifully into the late night reverby strums of ‘Molly & Aquafina’ a truly gorgeous twinkling track, Blunt’s vocal sorrowful and beautiful. Though his Hype Williams and solo recordings have been consistently interesting and unexpected, there’s not been the merest hint that he could have produced something like this. As the album progresses there’s more of the Hype Williams experimentation in evidence and the album becomes darker and ocassionally very hard to listen to indeed before ending with a spectacular screeching sax solo. Expected the unexpected throughout but expect greatness too.
9/10 Penrith Steve 27th February 2015
None more black. The first thing I thought when I removed this from its cardboard mailer is Spinal Tap. A black PVC sheath containing a black album cover holding two pieces of black vinyl, each with black labels. Then I put it on and thought that the opening seconds sounded like "For You" from Big Star's Third. Then it started to remind me of another disparate album - Cody Chesnutt's "Headphone Masterpiece". the music that has influenced "Black Metal" has come from far and wide. There's a teeny sample form The Pastels "Over My Shoulder" on "100" and I'm sure that it's Chan Marshall on "Molly & Aquafina". The 13-minute "Forever" is a thing of lo-fi beauty. As mentioned in the above review, Bill Callahan springs to mind when listening. "X" has a "Drive" soundtrack eighties-ness to it and "Punk" lays down some hip-hop style beats. "Black Metal" is genuinely all over the place in an interesting and very listenable way.
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