Article by KevW
It can be difficult to assess what counts as "modern" anymore, especially in the music world. There will always be artists recreating the sounds of the past, and there will always be those attempting to do something brand new. The turn of the millennium saw a period where experimentation really took hold to the point where certain records were getting into the charts that would never do so now. It also marked a point whereby a slowing down of this evolution could be felt. It was almost as if everything that could be done, had been. Genres such as dubstep may have just been starting out and would eventually get absorbed into popular music, but most records that have since claimed to be "experimental" are not great leaps forwards, although that's not to say they're not unique and have their own sound to a certain extent.
The latest solo project of Watford-based musician Albert Hartley, [The Blaye], doesn't claim to be experimental, but many would see debut album 'Scarecrows' that way. Sure, you can throw in many comparisons and note that the different styles used (punk, electro-rock, drum and bass, electronica, post-rock...) aren't new themselves, but this intense musical stew definitely offers an individual take on them. The intense, menacing and urgent '' (each song simply has a number rather than a title) perhaps exemplifies this best, as hectic beats combine with dark guitar flourishes. As Hartley has previously been a member of a punk band and released his own electronic music this blueprint is an ideal combination of his skills.
For what is a largely instrumental album (Joseph Perry contributes vocals to the post-rock/drum and bass collision that is '[3']) that follows a similar pattern on many of its tracks, there's a surprising amount of variation. Opening with chiming guitars, '' soon throws in a scatter-bomb of electronic beats before switching to a skyscraping but simple guitar solo. '' could almost be a funk number, but the crash as the rest of the instrumentation joins the intro takes it somewhere else, before an all-consuming clang makes it all even bigger. Much of 'Scarecrows' plays on these different textures and makes for an album that you almost daren't take your eye of off for fear of what it might do next, which naturally is quite compelling. Final track '' sums this up in perhaps the best way, once more opening with chiming guitar but building and building into quite a melee that oozes power but never feels too oppressive. Whether you want to tag [The Blaye] as experimental or not, you can't deny that the determination to hit heights has paid off.
[The Blaye]'s website
Stream or buy the album
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