Album Reviews

Blockhead – Music By Cavelight

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 29 March 2004

Music By Cavelight sums up this album perfectly, as does the cover photo- music that is predominantly shade, but not oppressively so as it ispunctuated by shafts of light from the quirkiness of the samples and instrumental arrangements.

Blockhead is a New Yorker, a fan of hip-hop who had a brief career as arapper but discovered he was more at home producing the music. This hasyielded work on cLOUDDEAD‘s home label Mush Records, producing the album Blockhead’s Broke Beats.

Music By Cavelight is a mostly instrumental hip-hop album that sits wellin the company of DJ Shadow and Unkle. Even more so as asense of humour comes to the fore early on with Insomniac Olympics, a kindof “fanfare for the chilled-out man”. It’s about as much a call to arms asyou would need at three in the morning.

Moving on, You’ve Got Maelstrom (great title) blends a bit ofscratching in with a simply effective piano loop, while Sunday S´┐Żance goesmore widescreen and orchestral. A Better Place is a particularly good slowburner and then it’s on to the sublime Triptych Part 1, easy paced pianoand helium vocal sample sitting side by side. Part two of the three reveals a warm, deep organ sound.

Blockhead can also do a nice bit of psychedelia as illustrated on Breathe And Start, with its rapidly changing moods, piano trading off with muted trumpet, and the final title track uses a violin line, probably of Eastern origin, to spice things up.

The production is nicely understated, a “less is more” approach workingwell here, and the beats are laid back hip-hop but certainly not tracks bynumbers. No, Music By Cavelight is a rewarding album for the wee smallhours which gives as good as it gets – if you listen carefully you’lldiscover the intricacy of Blockhead’s arrangements, but if you don’t themusic will wash over you gracefully. A nocturnal treasure.

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More on Blockhead
Blockhead – The Music Scene
Blockhead – Downtown Science
Blockhead – Music By Cavelight