Published Jan 01, 2006Up until now, Blockhead is best known for providing the beats for college friend Aesop Rock, but the young producer has finally stepped up to centre stage to deliver an absolutely gorgeous blend of live instrumentation, dreamy slow-paced beats and helium-induced vocal samples. Though the majority was created with nothing more than a sampler, Music By Cavelight is a very organic-sounding record that captures all sorts of elements such as spiritual choirs, a wide variety of horns and even Peanuts snippets, set to a down-tempo backdrop that often sends chills down your spine. Blockheads hip-hop background shines often, such as his albums first two joints, "Hello Poptartz and "Youve Got Maelstrom, which both employ Omege One on the cuts over childish feel-good rhythms such as xylophone and flutes. "Carnivores Unite takes the beats up a few pitches to create a good dance floor opportunity, but its when he crafts pure symphonies of epic proportions such as the harmonica-driven "Sunday Seance that hints at Four Tet with its slow piano tinkering. Blockhead covers a lot of ground with his first solo release, moving from straight-up hip-hop to East Indian sitar vibes all in the same outing and all with fantastic results. Whether well ever receive another effort in this fashion seems unlikely as the production was done a few years ago and his sound is already evolving, but you can bet that anything this emerging talent touches will be solid gold.
You seem partial to sampling jazz horns. Yeah, when I made the album I was listening to a lot of jazz. I still like sampling horns, but I dont listen to as much jazz as I used to. Nowadays Im more into sampling unintelligible vocal samples or stuff that isnt words. I try to be the Pete Rock of unintelligible vocals.
You also have the tendency to speed up your vocal samples. Its not intentional. Its funny because sped-up vocal samples are so big right now. I made "Tryptic Part One with the [sped-up] "there is no greater love sample in 98, and Im sure Im not the first one to do that either. With production its always whoever gets it out first, you know? I also slow down samples, so its however it fits the mood of the pitch of the song.
Is it true you used to rap but stuck with producing because friends said you sucked? By todays terms I was actually alright. Back then I couldnt hang with it, but today there are all these fucking indie records and Im as good as half of them. (Ninja Tune)