Blockhead – Downtown Science (Ninja Tune)


Blockhead - Downtown Science

This album largely dispenses with the late night atmospherics of Blockhead’ first record Music by Cavelight in favour of something closer to Ninja Tune’ signature hip-hop sound established by acts like the Herbaliser.

What makes Blockhead special is his beats and his heavy use of samples. On this album he has mastered his cymbal heavy live drum sound, aligning himself with contemporaries like RJD2 and Diplo. He also manages to dig up some satisfyingly musty samples to go along with the beats, avoiding the obvious choices. He is just as likely to sample some little known Broadway musical or strange woodwind instrument as he is to sample some P-Funk style groove.

On “Serenade’ a blue-eyed, clean-cut close harmony group rubs up against a bumping r & b beat. “Cherry Picker’ melds a pitch-altered Vera Lynne style vocal sample with some Satie-style piano and Memphis Horn stabs.

The album is determinedly downtempo and it all gets a bit samey if listened to in one sitting. In the end Blockhead’ eclectic choice of samples keeps the record from sliding into the background.


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