Blockhead

Music by Cavelight

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During the 2000s, Ninja Tune upheld its reputation for quality breakbeats, and, far from becoming complacent, continued breaking intriguing and varied new records, from Fog's Ether Teeth to Cinematic Orchestra's Every Day. Though Blockhead may be a new name for fans of the label, underground rap fans already know him well for providing the productions behind Aesop Rock's Labor Days as well as tracks from Definitive Jux partners Murs, S.A. Smash, and Party Fun Action Committee. His solo debut, Music by Cavelight, is a collection of comparatively understated, downtempo instrumentals which apparently function as Blockhead's bid for artistic prestige -- a claim he hardly needed to make before, thanks to his talented productions. These tracks are much smoother than the warped jams that fans of his hip-hop work know him for; most of the instrument sources on these tracks are not only recognizable, but hardly tampered with at all. The opener, "Hello Popartz," is pleasantly sleepy, despite the scratching of Omega One, and cements the already close ties between underground rap and progtronics heroes Boards of Canada (who had remixed cLOUDDEAD a few months earlier). Farther on, "Sunday Seance" reaffirms the BoC connections with an excellent production of organ chords spiraling downward to create a warm atmosphere. Still, without a deft rap to go over these tracks, many of them merely drift over the listener, reeking of trip-hop's early days when dozens of acts -- even a few Ninja Tune acts -- could impress listeners with merely an aimless piano melody and a sampled plunger-mute trumpet chained to a shuffling breakbeat. Ironic, then, that a few of the highlights come from the bonus second disc, which compiles five of Blockhead's previous productions for Aesop Rock tracks.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
4:28
2
2:15
3
4:20
4
4:29
5
4:40
6
blue highlight denotes track pick