Intimacy and unease are not the exclusive domain of begging guitarists and folkie anchorites. In fact, while bearded farmers exhaust the possibilities of caveman discourse, as far as I, an exhausted persistent offender, can see, on the other side of the planet the new digital geneticists are operating under the same spiritual coordinates, but with much more exciting tools. These young bucks have the evolutionary key to a musical romanticism that, after careful manipulation of its DNA, seems to combine futuristic technology and electronic esotericism better than ever.
Gilles Peterson knows this better than anyone. This is why he plucked Will Ozanne from anonymity and allowed him to be baptised by fire on his Brownswood label with the applauded EP “In Your Gut Like A Knife”. Floating Points and Four Tet were mentioned, and not in vain. Released last year, one could sense in it the spark of an incandescent talent that has entered into the supernova phase. It has given us the mercurial sadness of the LP at hand, a majestic, delicate exercise in style that makes your hair stand on end from the first to the last chord.
Garage skeletons, bass that echoes resoundingly, shadows of dubstep diluted in cups of liquid pop, cybernetic soul for sad summers: it’s all here. Ozanne gently gooses the British underground, but he also gets off on the toasted effects of California psychedelics (constructing delicate walls of synth that reverberate on the palate once swallowed) and indulges in the defeatist allure of Drake’s weepy post-R&B. Everything is branded by fire with heartrending piano lines, affected vocal passages, and the brakes always tapped on the bpm’s. It’s digitalised affliction for ethernauts. Sad songs for existentialist skinyards.
There are no concessions, not even a glimmer of what could even remotely be called a hit; Gang Colours is an amalgam of chamber instrumentation and the latest-generation wintry electronic music that seeks to give the listener’s neurons a long massage. It seeks atmosphere. And it sure does find it. Cascades of beats somewhere between garage and IDM are joined by ghostly laments and imposing melodies in “Forgive Me?”. Gothic pianos that repeat themselves again and again, syncopated digital percussion and foggy video console ditties fill “Tissues And Fivers”. Post-dubstep built on curved polyrhythms and lazy keyboards that resound in ebony boxes like fireworks celebrate a funeral in “Botley In Bloom”. It’s like James Blake, but with another voice. Half-light. Tobacco smoke. Acid drizzle in an album that could have been titled “Chiba City Blues”. Oscar for Best Cyberdrama.