Album Reviews

Blockhead – Music By Cavelight

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 29 March 2004

Blockhead - Music By Cavelight Music By Cavelight sums up this album perfectly, as does the cover photo- music that is predominantly shade, but not oppressively so as it is punctuated 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 a rapper but discovered he was more at home producing the music. This has yielded 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 well in the company of DJ Shadow and Unkle. Even more so as a sense of humour comes to the fore early on with Insomniac Olympics, a kind of “fanfare for the chilled-out man”. It’s about as much a call to arms as you would need at three in the morning.

Moving on, You’ve Got Maelstrom (great title) blends a bit of scratching in with a simply effective piano loop, while Sunday Séance goes more widescreen and orchestral. A Better Place is a particularly good slow-burner and then it’s on to the sublime Triptych Part 1, easy paced piano and 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 working well here, and the beats are laid back hip-hop but certainly not tracks by numbers. No, Music By Cavelight is a rewarding album for the wee small hours which gives as good as it gets – if you listen carefully you’ll discover the intricacy of Blockhead’s arrangements, but if you don’t the music 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