In an increasingly hectic world the slow-moving can often be overlooked – but that’s unlikely to be the case with Will Ozanne’s debut album. As Gang Colours he has crafted an enchanting and compelling piece of work that shifts gracefully and unhurriedly through time, somehow demanding your attention from start to finish with what can turn out to be the simplest of musical ideas.
Ozanne freely admits his liking for the slow stuff, confessing that even on hearing and liking Dizzee Rascal‘s Boy In Da Corner, he was drawn to the slowest track on it, Brand New Day. It confirms musical simplicity as the order of his day as he looks for emotion in creeping melodies, evolving atmospheres and, just occasionally, thoughtful vocals.
The vocals form a profound confessional on Forgive Me, where a sonorous but distant male voice emotes words that are difficult to hear but, to this ear at least, admit that “I fucked up”. The soul is bared, and the most basic of piano utterances, given as if in slow motion, conveys that feeling in instrumental form.
As the album threatens to turn in on itself in a pattern of self recrimination, Tissues & Fivers has the tread of a funeral march. The solemn but graceful piano feels like it has been imported from the slow movement of a Chopin piano sonata, while the atmospherics around paint a picture of barely stirring street life. In this respect Ozanne brings to mind the work of Jamie xx, with the shifting in and out of focus, the fuzzy atmospherics and the snatches of melody all evoking a desolate but strangely beautiful inner city picture.
And then, suddenly, we walk in to brilliant sunlight with the dazzling Botley In Bloom. Given all that has gone before this is reward indeed for all that introspection, with a shimmering heat haze like the first warm day in spring. Ironically this track, by far the fastest on the album, is Ozanne’s best moment with its oscillating loops. It faces keen competition from the similarly warm hearted Fancy Restaurant which follows it, mellow keyboard and slow, soulful beat supporting a much more optimistic and strangely beautiful vocal.
I Don’t Want You Calling is a more difficult listen. Here Ozanne operates with the poise of one of the early Ninja Tune successes, Funki Porcini, but struggles to keep his pain from surfacing. The beats are unmistakeably contemporary, sounding like a game of table tennis recorded close up in the way they bounce back and forth, but when they are broken up for another soft piano loop and burst of atmospherics the heart melts. It is very ‘straight faced’, but another of the many moments of simple eloquence of which Ozanne is capable.
This is a brave but captivating debut album, exploring the inner parts of the mind, and proves a very strong addition to the Brownswood canon. Here is another hugely talented producer on their roster, with a potential that The Keychain Collection is about to unlock.