Dean Blunt’s world is a fuzzy one. Not that the former half of Hype Williams has a particularly sunny outlook on life, but well, Dean Blunt isn’t even his real name. Both in collaboration with Inga Copeland, as well as on his previous two efforts under his adopted moniker, he’s put forth a confrontational, hazy stew of dub and dance, mirroring his personal and professional obfuscation with a near impenetrable musical fog. Utilizing slipshod sampling (and yes, broad strokes of reverb) his Hype Williams work felt a bit like standing with your nose against the television – the bursts of color are there, but your eyes have to strain to make sense of it.
Given that obscurity, the relative focus of Blunt’s latest solo outing, The Redeemer, comes as a bit of a surprise. Both aesthetically and thematically, this new record finds Blunt ditching the detritus and deciding that the time has come to: make a pop record. Or at least Blunt’s twisted version of a pop record.
Despite that these songs align with traditional song structures, Blunt still maintains his typical art school eccentricities. “Demon” presents Blunt’s vocals unvarnished (ragged and underdeveloped as they may be), but the track is pitted with disembodied voices and shattering panes of glass. Similarly, the slightly out of tune slide guitar and Blunt’s cracked baritone on “Walls of Jericho” lend humanity to the fragility of the sampled strings that make up most of the track. At every turn, he finds a way to bring intimacy and immediacy to the cold distance of his now drier and clearer instrumentation.
On The Redeemer, our wayward experimentalist bought himself a pair of sonic glasses and consequently found a surprising sincerity in himself. Blunt’s past records steeped that sincerity in reverb or in incomprehensible in-jokes – the beauty was in the blur. This time around, he’s figured out that he doesn’t look too shabby in focus either.
Essential Tracks: “Demon”, “Walls of Jericho”, and “Imperial Gold”