Two years after his incredible debut album, Safe, a boundary-pushing slab of experimental grime, South London's Visionist returned with Value, his first full-length for Big Dada. Having moved far beyond the club-focused sound of his earlier singles and EPs, Visionist uses the album format for intense self-examination, expressing all of his inner conflicts and struggles. His tracks typically feature tense synth pads and scattered, chirping voices, erupting into harsh, explosive rhythms that drill rather than simply pound. The gut-churning "New Obsession" essentially sounds like a looped car crash, with the abrasive grinding offset by layers of heavenly synths. Plenty of moments strip down to just shivering pianos and streams of light, but they often lead to more dramatic sections, such as the ballooning arpeggios and chattering voices of "Homme." The sparse R&B ballad "Your Approval" is the album's most direct song, with distraught vocals by Rolynne, who contemplates forgiveness and self-worth. This leads into "No Idols," a jarring piece of avant grime with bludgeoning rhythms surrounded by a sprinkle of calm, ethereal pianos, with detached trance synths shining through the wreckage near the end. Value is bleak, uncertain, and disconcerting, and even fans of Safe might find it a bit hard to connect with, but Visionist has a talent for reaching deep within and channeling existential crisis, and the album is another success. No one said this would be easy.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson