Blockhead – The Music Scene

January 01, 1970

(Ninja Tune)




Tony Simon, aka Blockhead, layers dense interlocking
rhythms, moody overtones of guitar, strings and synthesizer and a tantalizing
array of samples in this fourth solo album. One of Def Jux’s top producers,
Simon has made his name crafting beats for Aesop Rock, Slug, Murs and other
alternative rappers. Here, without rhyme (but never without reason), he lays
the beats bare, allowing you to appreciate complex interplays of rhythm and


A soundtrack without a movie, The Music Scene, evokes noire-ish nightscapes of rainy streets and
chilled romantic encounters. The “Daily Routine” slips in a foul-mouthed
screaming match between junkies, while “Pity Party” showcases someone who
sounds a lot like Antony (there are no credits), fluttering among jazz-cool
flourishes of piano and horns. “Tricky Turtle” brings in an Afro-beat smoulder,
with swaggering brass, blaxploitation-style thump and a woman singer who surely
hails from somewhere in West Africa. Lyrical interludes come and go, but none
is lovelier than “The Prettiest Sea Slug” with its muted Caribbean syncopation,
iridescent tones of electric keyboard and sweeping, swooning movie-credit
strings.   “Hell Camp” is uncomfortably
jokey, built around a truly awful woman’s voice enforcing curtseys and other
politesses among her young charges, and “Farewell Spaceman” crosses over into a
lite jazz fusion-i-ness that cloys rather than subverts and entertains. But
mostly, these tracks balance serenity and intricacy with insouciant ease.  Smooth, yes, but rarely slick.



Standout Tracks: “Pity Party” “Tricky Turtle,” “The Prettiest Sea Slug” JENNIFER KELLY





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