Son Raw is levitating in suspension.
Blackdown occupies a key role in UK music, but also one that can occasionally see him looked over when the time comes to hand out superlatives. Restless in his pursuit of new sonic possibilities both through his Rinse FM radio shows alongside Dusk and through their label Keysound, he’s intensely resistant to being boxed in, loving nothing more than a left turn away from the obvious when most people would cash in on a winning formula.
He’s also more liable to spend his energy shining a light on someone else’s talent than he is angling for the spotlight. That’s meant that Keysound has cultivated a dedicated following among producers and critics, but always on a doggedly subterranean level. Likewise, his own productions have often sought new ways to reconstruct UK rave’s various signifiers into new shapes, but have sometimes felt like they hit the head or the feet rather than the heart. So while he’s sustained his creativity for far longer than the majority of his dubstep era peers, he hasn’t always attracted the same attention.
Those Moments marks a change. Blackdown’s solo debut is his most emotionally charged material by a considerable margin—something’s happened here and the record sounds like it’s in search of catharsis. Taking the ‘weightless’ concept of bass heavy, not-quite-ambient club music pioneered by Mumdance and Logos as a starting point, Those Moments is a fractured, fragmented listen that evokes a series of memories emerging through the haze, with vocal snippets darting in and out of earshot as the bass and synthesized instrumentation levitate in suspension.
Say what you want about the album, it’s an emotionally charged listen. Whereas his collaborative albums with Dusk like Margins Music and Dasaflex often felt like formal and intellectual experiments, here, the format, the sounds, and the vocals all convey a sense of longing and loss, working towards feelings rather than a focus on form.
It’s a record perfectly timed for November’s long nights, almost certainly no coincidence considering Blackdown’s ongoing interest in music’s place in the physical world. If you’re feeling a bit of the urban blues, Those Moments is the kind of LP you can throw on for a walk or drive to clear your head, or alternately to lose yourself in unresolvable thoughts.
Coming in at a punch 27 minutes, there’s not a wasted second, and it flows with the ease of music that needed to get out, unlabored even as it deals with difficult emotions. It’s the last thing I expected from a Blackdown solo LP, but it’s also a very welcome surprise.