Blockhead - Funeral Balloons
New Blockhead music is always welcome, like a visit from an old friend. It's a peculiar phenomenon that friendships cultivated during late teens/early twenties seem most likely to survive the paucity of communication dictated by later-life concerns. While friendships made later in life can quickly wither without regular feeding, the bonds of a twenties-friendship are like cacti... water once in a blue moon and no visible deterioration presents.
So it is with the new Blockhead record Funeral Balloons. Not much has changed, style-wise, from previous efforts dating all the way back to Music By Cavelight, the 2004 album that brought him global acclaim via the legendary Ninja Tune label. It was also the record that created the bond I feel with Blockhead, AKA Tony Simon, and his music. At a time when Hip-Hop was at the forefront of my musical life and the likes of RJD2, Joey Beats, Aim, Madlib and Jel were showing what could be achieved by elevating Beats music to new ambitions, influenced no doubt by the seminal works produced on my own doorstep by the likes of Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack. It was a time of experimentation with what Hip-Hop could achieve, and what it could mean. Post Golden-Era and fiercely separatist from the creeping spectre of the blingy Pop-Hop that stole Hip-Hop's name, the music of that time had a particular flavour.
That's not to say the music on Funeral Balloons feels stagnant - far from it. Blockhead has always had a masterful touch, an ear for a captivating arrangement and a delicate, nuanced palate that lift what are essentially Hip-Hop Instrumentals to a far loftier pedestal. This is music to get lost in, music to drive to, music to fall in love to, and with.
Blockhead is a master beatsmith, and while the beats he crafts are less fashionable than they were a decade ago, don't let that distract you from the majesty within Funeral Balloons.
Particular highlights: Festival Paramedics' swirling, conflictual yet uplifting double-time, Cop Rock's surreal take on 50s Rock n Roll that brings out such a range of emotions one can hardly believe it's all in the same song, and the majestic, soundtrack-ish Funeral Balloons.
Get it through Bandcamp or check Discogs