Blondes BlondesTouched EP
Nothing is what it seems: Blondes don’t have hair the colour of gold (it’s much closer to brown, depending on how the sun hits it), nor is the “Touched EP” exactly an EP, as it goes for over forty minutes, has six songs that are actually five (the last is a remix by Oneohtrix Point Never) and could easily be considered to be the first album by this Brooklyn duo. It has all of the aplomb asked of a debut album, it arrives surrounded by quite a bit of expectation on the glo-fi scene, and also, “Touched” is the type of material that is best enjoyed with a bit of patience and time.
If you don’t count the number of tracks, all you have to do is remember the last album by The Field which also had six tracks and was, or those who don’t remember, a masterpiece, or at least close. I’m mentioning The Field because Blondes are reminiscent of them in part because of Axel Willner. The pieces are extensive and they develop slowly, curling up within themselves, with the will to create a far off, open space, or even a space in outer space, although it’s quite clear from the first few seconds of “You Mean So Much To Me”, and its nine minutes of cosmic, floating odyssey, that it has a lot more to do with pop than with techno. Let’s not forget they’re from Brooklyn, as we mentioned before, and are closer to Black Dice than the maxis from the Kompakt label. At the core, Blondes hide songs among analog junk. It would be completely acceptable to put their album near Fuck Buttons ’ second album on my shelf, or “Subiza” by Delorean.
Tracks like “Spanish Fly” recover the calmness of Baltic synthesizers with the distinction that Blondes neither sing, nor articulate songs with a hummable structure. They are rivers of sound that need to be absorbed by the skin. The Blondes’ music is passionate and optimistic and the voices that appear are space-like as well, with their whispering in the background. It has the capacity to transport you, which I think is its most valuable quality, what deserves to be pointed out on an album that can be discovered in two ways (this depends on the level of “cool” or snobbishness that you'd like to include in the commentary.) You can be of the opinion that they are a talented group with good results, but a bit clichéd, meaning they take the sound that legions of Scandanavian producers have already been using, like Studio, Lindstrom and Johan Agebjörn . It’s that sound which unifies the escapist hedonism of three decades in production of what is always recognized as a direct influence of psychedelic dance of the 90’s, with the mark of the current trippy-cosmic trend, in an intermediary place between Animal Collective and Gavin Russom , in order to achieve an appealing result but that has already been laced with coldness. Or, you can be of the opinion that Blondes represent a value less appointed in the roots pop scene: youth, freshness and spontaneity. It’s obvious that in order to come by the eleven minutes of “Moondance” you’ve got to have talent and it’s impossible that something like this happens by chance, but Blondes are able to make it not sound forced, nor are they trying to make it sound like cool and well-learned, dark electronica music, as if they’ve seen it all before. It’s actually quite the opposite. It seems that they still want to learn, as in their pale sound and lethargic tracks like “Virgin Pacific” which stick you right through the heart, although still sounds like a demo, with the possibility of having a more blended, softer body.
They’re not interested in cheap glo-fi, if not post-production with exaggerated compression and the high pitches invading the red light of the sound board, creating the pressure found in the heart of the best trance albums. It’s on Merok, but no one’s saying that it couldn’t be in Border Community or Kompakt Pop. If Blondes understand themselves as dreamlike pop, it must be done in that 90s way. None of this trying to remember what that song by ABC or Black sounded like, who bombarded video programming on old television, but instead, they try to make something with a blurry memory of Orbital, Cosmic Baby or Jam & Spoon. The fact that the results are so coherent and wake so many memories, or that it suggests so many arrows pointing towards different influences, shows that Blondes are serious about what they do, and they need to keep improving. That the “Touched” EP closes with a static (and ecstatic) remix by Oneohtrix Point Never of “Moondance (Sundial Mix)”, another gravitational dance tune among delicate arpeggios, indicates that they know how to cover an ample spectrum of years, spanning form the German kosmische musik to intelligent English techno, and are going down the right path. When the new album comes out, which is their first, or second depending on who you talk to (as for me, this goes beyond the idea of “extended play”), they will have progressed so much that they’ll scare you. The sooner, the better.