Slo Light

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Producer, composer, and musician Neil Davidge was an integral part of Massive Attack's excellent album Mezzanine, he was the composer of the Halo 4 video game soundtrack, and he's remixed acts like Exposé and Rozzalla, all of which makes for an odd but apt setup for the sound of this solo debut, most attention being thrown at the first bit. Slo Light is cold and calm like much of the Bristol sound, plus it is often dressed up and dreamy enough to be of interest to most trip-hop fans, but when "Riot Pictures" enlists the great Sandie Shaw for a series of stinging putdowns and life lessons, all of them enveloped in lush strings, it takes the Portishead/Massive Attack/Tricky style of plaintive pop in a more Hollywood direction, even when Massive's Robert del Naja aka 3D gets a co-writing credit. Not very warm or cozy at all, "Zero One Zero" with Living Days vocalist Stephonik Youth sounds like Nine Inch Nails coming off a Gary Numan jones as paranoia and gothic grit pour out of the speakers, while the great "Gallant Foxes" with vocalist Cate Le Bon grooves like a miniature Kraftwerk piece with an elegant grand piano break in the middle. "How Was Your Day" is pure chaos compared to Davidge's Mezzanine work, as a synthesized Burundi beat and Karima Francis' tortured siren song drive the track toward the brink, although those who wish it would rain, or at least fog over, get the very Massive-like title track and the aptly titled "Sleepwalking," both of which sound excellent in either tasteful lofts or abandoned warehouses. Exquisite stuff and not so far off the trip-hop universe that it sounds alien, but those wishing for revivalist music or a nostalgia trip back to the days of chillout rooms could be thrown by the album's forward-thinking and genre-expanding moments.

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