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Dean Blunt - Black Metal 2 Music Album Reviews

Dean Blunt - Black Metal 2 Music Album Reviews
The sequel to 2014’s beloved Black Metal is a brief but thrilling project from the mercurial artist, featuring the most approachable music of his career.

Dean Blunt has never exactly seemed approachable. His interviews are coy, almost dismissive, his projects are enigmatic, and his live sets are cryptic, fog-filled descents into the inscrutable. Then there’s the music itself, which can be sample-heavy and noisy or acoustic and melodic. On his 2014 album, Black Metal, you were as likely to hear him sing over a Pastels sample as you were to confront a 13-minute dirge with squawking horns and burnt-out piano. His music was fundamentally averse to genre, an avant-garde milestone that made implicit arguments about how we categorize music: “I get really put off by people that are too conscious of genre,” he told NPR in 2016. “I find that people who are too conscious of genre usually are way too conscious of race and way too conscious of shit that I also am irritated by.”

In typical Dean Blunt fashion, the rollout of Black Metal’s long-awaited sequel was understated and tongue-in-cheek. But once you actually listened to the music—looking past the trollish humor and unignorable allusions to Dr. Dre’s 2001—it became clear that Black Metal 2 is the most approachable album of his career without losing the vital ambiguity that has always made his records special. This is minimalist sophisti-pop, sung by a terminally downward-looking troubadour. It is the clearest Dean Blunt has ever sounded and one of his most thrilling releases to date.

In place of the flashes of intensity that popped up through Black Metal’s noisy interludes, its nominal sequel is built around stately strings, steady percussion, and jangling guitars. Black Metal’s instrumentation felt purposefully tinny; the strings were compressed, somewhat muted, as if Dean Blunt had recorded them on his cellphone and placed his vocals over them in Audacity. The production, mixed with freeform loops and martial snares, felt like a personal homage to post-punk: Colin Newman’s Commercial Suicide or This Mortal Coil’s Blood on a budget. While the music is a good deal softer this time around, the approach isn’t so much Dean Blunt goes pop as Dean Blunt goes Talk Talk. On “SKETAMINE,” rumbling bursts of guitar entwine with an ascending string section, while a harmonica wails in the distance. Blunt’s hazy imagery glints across the surface of the production, forming a loose outlaw ballad from scattered details like a “gun on the beach.”

Dean Blunt’s commanding baritone is newly and immediately at the front of the mix; he sings as if he’s given up a piece of himself that will never be restored. “Daddy’s broke/What a joke,” he murmurs on “NIL BY MOUTH,” a melancholy strummer pushed forward by Giles Kwakeulati King-Ashong’s drums and folk singer and frequent collaborator Joanne Robertson’s vocals, a constant companion through the album. Under the cool dismissal of these lyrics is an acceptance of eventual tragedy; throughout the album, Blunt states the fates of the characters in his narratives in an almost neutral tone, emphasizing the interchangeability of their dilemmas.

As the music grows more polished, Dean Blunt’s transmissions get rawer and more difficult to parse. His storytelling is often clipped, cut off when he’s just about to say something conclusive. On “VIGIL,” the stunning opener, he speaks as if bearing witness to an act of violence: “Nigga, where you are?/Can’t see in the dark/So nigga, where’s your gun?/Can you see what you done?” As the strings fade, you’re left with just the terrifying ambiguity. Taken literally, it seems possible that he is speaking to someone who doesn’t yet know he’s a killer. It’s somewhere between an observation and a testimony, which is the fertile ground where most of these songs lie. The emptiness of Dean Blunt’s songs comes from a recognition that so much of identity is made before you’re even cognizant you have one.

Dean Blunt gently mocks the absurd roleplaying that gets us through the day, while also recognizing its importance. Take the scammer’s mantra of “MUGU”: “Everybody gotta sin/So a scammer’s gotta have a win.” Because he views self-presentation as a form of self-preservation, you get the sense these words have more to do with seeing yourself as a winner than actually winning anything. And when he later sings, “Let it out, nigga, let it out/Show them crackers what you all about,” his tone is at once empathetic and sarcastic, a subtle way of arguing that performing anger is just another way of reencoding notions of Black masculinity. Though trying to pin Dean Blunt’s actual beliefs down has never been the point of his music, what seems certain now is that his words contain as much truth as they do fiction; behind every bit is a deeply held feeling.

The gripping finale, “the rot,” is the closest Dean Blunt comes to putting it all on the table. The instrumentation is magisterial yet rustic, evoking a sense of desolation. It’s the type of song you might expect a singer to growl or wail over—yet Blunt draws out the words with detachment: “I told her relax/You might as well relax/’Cause the fear is going down, down, down.” Robertson responds with a quiver, echoing his message: “And I guess it’ll rot away.” This might be the closest a Dean Blunt record has ever come to offering words of comfort. It’s a skeletal glimpse at something like hope, a fitting message to end on. Before you’ve taken it all in, it evaporates away.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Dean Blunt - Black Metal 2 Music Album Reviews Dean Blunt - Black Metal 2 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, June 24, 2021 Rating: 5

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