Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: Aesop Rock, album reviews, Blockhead, DJ Shadow, Ninja Tune, Reviews of the Week, Tony Simon
PREVIEW: VISIT Blockhead’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts
New York’s Tony Simon, aka Blockhead, has often been hailed as the East Coast’s DJ Shadow, an innovator whose work has set him apart from a sea of imitators in the genre. Aside from building his acclaimed discography, Simon has provided production for the Def Jux label’s wunderkind, Aesop Rock, turning out the backing tracks for some of Aesop’s most memorable tunes (see “Daylight”).
As Simon releases his fourth studio effort via the Ninja Tune label, it’s clear that his production style has undergone a revamping for the better. The Music Scene, as Simon describes, is based off of a much more story-oriented writing process than any of his previous work. “I made each song a little more of a musical journey than anything I have ever done before,” he says. And never with more sophistication has Simon produced a record.
Unlike past works, the tracks on The Music Scene resist Simon’s tendency to exploit a comfortable pocket in one musical idea and remain there for the entirety of the song. Each track on the album evolves and grows with a compositional complexity previously unheard in Simon’s work.
Simon shines brightest on the record’s most intriguing track, “The Daily Routine,” which traces a much darker, paranoia-filled trip than the other tracks. Ornamented with clips of two junkies arguing, the track is perhaps the most emotionally engaging on the album. Throughout the record, though, Simon captivates listeners with a newly mastered talent for utilizing loops of live vocals, instrumentation, and beats.
The Music Scene certainly stands as the paramount in Simon’s career thus far, and hopefully foreshadows a new maturity in his forthcoming albums. Simply put, The Music Scene will most likely be hailed for quite some time as Simon’s Endtroducing. Time can only tell though, and surely will for this trip-hop defining milestone.
– John Luposello