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dean blunt-black metal 2lp (rough trade)

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dean blunt: black metal

Blunt’s newest odyssey, Black Metal, rides this tension between criti­cal detachment and mainlined human feeling, and in fact he climbs ever-steeper theoretical heights just as his emotionally stark songs become, at times, startlingly intimate. A true multi-media vanguard, Blunt employs original instrumentation along with elements of pastiche and his unique vocal performances to create songs and recordings that are not only beautiful, but also tie into his larger project that incorporates music, visual art, and the writ­ten word to play with identity, cultural signifiers, and artistic agency. But Black Metal is above all a brilliant, majestic collection of songs, encompassing everything from hypnotic long-form experiments to ballads almost disarming in their sweet simplicity, swirling equally with fascinating sounds and fascinating ideas. Blunt’s influences are wide-ranging, from rock’s underground pioneers (he quotes Sonic Youth in interviews; the album leads with a Big Star sample), to neo­classical composers, to early indie pop (another track samples The Pastels), to classic rock, hip-hop, and R&B. But rather than coldly compiling them, Blunt brings the works and genres he draws from into a new musical and cultural conversation. In the cover story to September’s issue of The Wire, Blunt explains his relationship to his listeners: “Whatever is communicated through the purity of intention is out of my hands…because I didn’t know anything beyond that.” With his newest, most accomplished, and most vexing album, Blunt invites us to draw our own conclusions in his expansive and fascinating world.

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