Review: Dean Blunt - "Babyfather"

Dean Blunt - Babyfather
(Hyperdub 2015)

With each new Dean Blunt release, I become a bit more certain that the enigmatic, UK-based producer is the 21st century's Beat Happening. Just as Calvin Johnson's influential twee-pop trio offered a primal and lovably puerile answer to the dark post-punk sound that prevailed in the early to mid 80s, Blunt crafts a unique brand of vaporous R&B from off-kilter drum machine rhythms and woozy, repetitious samples, acting as a raw, "DIY" parallel to the "future pop" sound of SOPHIE, Holly Herndon and to a certain extent, even Death Grips. His latest output is free .zip file of 9 unreleased tracks, but by no means is Babyfather a mere addendum to last year's Black Metal. Rather, it seems to be a bit of a stylistic return to Blunt's pre-Redeemer era, with a more rhythmic, poppy twist. Save for the album's Velvet Underground-esque intro, Black Metal's minimal guitar compositions are exchanged for bleak, chopped-up samples of 80s synthpop and modern hip-hop as well as the occasional airy casio patch. As usual, Blunt's vocals are the highlight of the of the compilation, as passionate as a clumsy karaoke performance yet unmatched in their suave sense of aplomb. Accompanying them is a collection of some of his most satisfying production to date, highlights of which include "Rachel Cut", a melancholy Macintosh Plus/MF Doom hybrid, the almost arrhythmic groove of "Coco" and Babyfather's haunting, jazzy coda, "Gass". Though not rewarding a listen as Blunt's post-pop masterpiece, The Redeemer, Babyfather makes for yet another impressive addition to the sound collagist's discography.