While Joanne Robertson was already an emerging figure in the British folk underground, it was the ever-evolving trickster and avant provocateur Dean Blunt who brought her into the spotlight, collaborating with her on Stone Island, The Redeemer, and lately on Black Metal, where her soft guitar basically builds the tracks and sets the mood. Now the tables have turned, with Robertson releasing her new LP, Black Moon Days, and Blunt assisting Robertson with some truly bedroom beats for a ballad so shy ("Hi Watt"), it's basically shoegaze. Or shoegaze folk, with Joanne staring at her shoes with emotional intensity while plucking on her acoustic guitar.
Another year, another handful from Dean Blunt. This time around we hear Blunt zeroing in on the uncanny pop sampling style that peppered The Redeemer in the name of some skewed R&B. The video for "Trident" pulls a curious modal shift, with guitar noodling over crime scene footage abruptly cutting to a consumately YouTube-style video of the track playing against a low quality image of the single's art. As always, Blunt's work is confounding and compelling in ways we hadn't seen coming, and the video is sure to inspire a lot of chatter. Considering the fact that the chatter will likely engage Blunt as a capital-A "Artist," it's funny to consider that "Trident" is a form that the high-brow can assume in music these days.
In most discussions about the Syracuse hardcore outfit Perfect Pussy there is the inevitable remark about how the band was thrust into the media spotlight in a matter of months, their excellent four-song EP, I have lost all desire for feeling, garnering critical attention from both small blogs and giants like Complex and Rolling Stone. Their sudden success may be an overstated fact at this point, yet, at the same time, it makes one wonder what about the band has prompted such a positive response. Perfect Pussy’s debut album, Say Yes to Love, has received critical acclaim in reviews, many of which either imply or explicitly pronounce that the band is groundbreaking, rebellious, and significant.
Says a review from Pitchfork: “Something about Say Yes to Love… speaks to the forces that make women in our society feel like they must exist in a constant state of perceived inadequacy.” From NME: “As a statement of noisy intent and underground attitude it placed them at the squealier end of Parquet Courts’ ‘zine scene…This is the chaos of protest.” And from Impose: “Perfect Pussy feels almost heroic for expressing the darkest, most vulnerable confessionals in an unabashed manner.” In each of these pieces, Perfect Pussy is framed as a fearless underdog faction whose music stands in opposition to some sort of repressive status quo. In Tiny Mix Tapes’ review of the record, Simon Chandler succinctly points out the absurdity of such praise-heavy reviews: “…Being called ‘maybe the most important punk band to come out of’ Syracuse since whoever is one fine way of polluting the appreciation of music with the tiresome compulsion to recognize ‘importance.’”
Part of what Chandler is critiquing in these reviews is their attempt to convey substance with constructions that are fairly empty, or empty enough to apply to any music. For instance, look at a line from the NME review where the the author writes: "This is the sound of giving no fucks at all. It's blink-and-you'll-miss-it-fury." Magnetic words and phrases like "giving no fucks" and "fury" are inserted into the text, but the subject of the fury is left ambiguous. The result is writing which is full of what Ayn Rand once called "floating abstractions," a use of concepts that lacks an understanding of what the concept means in reality. These abstractions help faciliatate certain narrative shapes in writing. In Perfect Pussy reviews, that narrative shape is a hugely popular one: the story of triumph over convention or limitation.
Notably missing from many reviews of Say Yes to Love is any contextualization of the band within the long lineage of other feminist-identifying punk acts. Allusions to the album’s feminism seem incomplete without an attempt to place singer Meredith Graves’ politics within a trajectory of socially conscious music. It’s true that it is incredibly difficult to write music criticism that extends beyond simple descriptions and that evades the wording of advertisements. But to accept the role as critic in the first place requires a conviction that music is supposed to be deciphered, contextualized and scrutinized. In the Pitchfork review, Lindsay Zoladz writes, “It’s easy to be overtaken by the primal force of this music but there’s also an incentive to dig deeper.” What “digging deeper” entails is never articulated; instead, the author comments on how Graves lyrics are full of "vivid images" and "bold confessions." On the other hand, in the Tiny Mix Tapes review, the author attempts an interpretation when he says that the lyrics to “Advance Upon the Real” are talking about “spaces that haven’t yet been the appropriated by the surrounding community and redefined to suit its own ends.”
In this effort to look at the critical response to Perfect Pussy's album, it feels dishonest to discuss specific observations about the writing without connecting these observations to larger ideas about how underground culture is now represented in mass media. Perfect Pussy may be the latest band to seem to incarnate the trope of the punk band as heroic underdog, but that trope has been around for a while, and can mean very different things depending on the cultural climate in which it is invoked. Saying that Perfect Pussy are punk rock heroes means something very different today from what it meant twenty years ago.
Dean Blunt rarely explains himself, often leaving his music to be delightfully unclear, but this newest video, released to his Youtube channel earlier today, seems almost certainly to be a preview for a project to come. Etched in the lower corner of the 40-second clip comes the message "avail dec 2013, colette paris." The song sample-- which features a hip-hop beat and a repetitive vocal sample that goes "I'll be watching you-- is set to an image of Blunt sitting on a deck, smoking, and wearing a cowboy hat. Next to him is a woman-- who may or may not be Inga Copeland-- donning a Dean Blunt t-shirt. We'll have to wait until next month to see if anything actually surfaces from this teaser.
In Dean Blunt's typical what-the-fuck fashion, the guy decided to drop an entire free and downloadable new album today called Stone Island with no notice via Russian news outlet Афиша. Never heard of it?? Neither had we. To our delight, the album continues in the orchestral, MacBook Pro pop direction Blunt left off with on The Redeemer, and can be grabbed here. "King James," dubbed "3" on the download, is streaming below. (via No Fear of Pop)
And for those who were curious about how his movie "The Rhinestone Bezel" is coming along, you can see two monologues from a casting call below. The film is set to hit cinemas in Winter 2013, as previously reported.
Read crowd-sourced reviews of "Despicable Me 2" in Russian here.
The consistently curious and always enigmatic Dean Blunt has announced "The Rhinestone Bezel," a film supposedly coming to cinemas this winter. In an all-too-familiar unorthodoxy, Blunt revealed the plans through the release of "Champagne Dance Scene" on his SoundCloud page, containing the brief and ungrounded announcement in the description. Separated by nearly 4 and a half minutes of pure silence, "Champage Dance Scene" includes two sections, both equally apprehensive in intrigue and cautious in progression. Check out the full track below.
I feel like, for a variety of reasons, it might be pointless to speculate on exactly what's going on in this new video from Dean Blunt, but at least the gathered clues seem to hint at a forthcoming 7" comprised of the two tracks ("Felony" and "Stalker") combined in this video. Dean, or the character he's playing, is consumed by betrayal, playing the role of the odd man out in an affair. Between his icy delivery and broad language, it remains difficult to tell whether the affair is a trusted partner cheating on an old vow or a total stranger locked in sight of his inner stalker, leaving a suspenseful empathy with a protagonist whose intentions haven't truly been exposed as good, bad, or anything at all. Also, oddly enough, the timestamp is on the anniversary of an earlier leak of "Stalker," so perhaps there is some significance in June 24th? You can stream the video and preview the tracks from the youtube embed above.
Dean Blunt's made quite a name for himself from smokebombs, perpetually baiting a certain mystery with his body of work-- whether as himself, joined by Inga Copeland, or Hype Williams-- that toes the the threshold of some secret door: behind it, is either the answer that's been a phantom at tongue's tip, or the disappointing realization that, all along, there wasn't even anything behind the door. Though that metaphorical wink can light conversational fires (an idea label Hippos in Tanks uses more cleverly than most), the uncomfortable notion that you're just being fucked with has always made Blunt's music a tricky thing to commit to in a directly emotional way.
However, new record The Redeemer suceeds writing out those pretenses, fileting the more potent aspects of the enigmatic imagery-- the struggling inner mantra of the vocals, the insulating voyeurism of the ignored voicemails, a brazen sort of amateurish playing ringing out as if in a recital hall to a hushed congregation, the ample negative space overshadowed by how big these small bits can act. Blunt's knack fo presentation is heavily documented already, however, and what really stands out with Redeemer is the songwriting, the highlights of which (the title track and "Papi") effectively mix brashly sparse instrumentation with more communicative, less insular song structures, turning crazy people music into crazy people pop.
We're kicking off Ad Hoc with a mix of songs that our contributing blogs have had in heavy rotation lately. Between the new age vibrations from Blues Control & Laraaji, the mathy metal of Dog Shredder, the new collab between Cali garage torchbearers Ty Segall and White Fence, and the interstellar sleaze of the 4AD-inducted SpaceGhostPurrp, there's something for everyone on here. Stream it below, or download the whole thing.