Blockhead - The Music Scene
Tony Simon (aka Blockhead), the producer for Aesop Rock, has put together a collection of moody soundscapes on his fourth solo effort, The Music Scene. Accompanied by a variety of samples, the back beat and percussion drive the tunes while quick, sparse melodies are introduced through a variety of instruments.
On repeated listens, though, it’s questionable whether this makes for a good album to sit and enjoy by itself, or if it’s best enjoyed as the background for other activities. There isn’t a lot here to grab you, and it flows together seamlessly. Not to say it’s boring, but it lacks the grip to be an experience in itself.
Perhaps the exception to this rule is ‘The Daily Routine,’ a much darker tune shadowed by clips of arguments spattered throughout. It’s difficult to listen to, and that’s probably the point. It’s also somewhat unexpected on an album with mostly calming overtones that are maybe slightly tinged with sadness, but at least serenely so.
Simon successfully conveys feeling throughout The Music Scene and maybe he’s showing us more of himself through these songs than he possibly could producing beats for Aesop Rock. At the end of it all, the album puts the responsibility on the listener to take away from it what they will.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.
on 2010-02-17 thurstamoore Said:
Blockhead, whom you may recognize from his incredible work with Aesop Rock, has released his fourth instrumental hip-hop masterpiece on Ninja Tune Records (Kid Koala, Amon Tobin, Jaga Jazzist..among a few). It is a completely instrumental hip-hop album, similar to that of DJ Shadow's breakthrough Endtroducing.... The Music Scene is the perfect road trip album, with its flawless, chill-out vibe yet undeniable groove and beat. It gives you space to think and explore without the constrictions of vocals, leaving you with the choice to find your own meaning.
"It's Raining Clouds" opens with thunderous beats - get ready folks, Blockhead is in the house. The opener ranges in style, with an Indian flute and sitar, horns, spacey keyboards and monstrous drumming. "Only Sequence Changes" is definitely a highlight of the album, with its out-of-the ordinary mix of old-time vocals, irresistible tenor sax and orchestrated strings reaching to unthinkable heights. Blockhead was clearly having a love affair with the saxophone on this album, which can be heard best on "Which One of You Jerks Drank my Arnold Palmer". Although the album is strong, there are a few parts that don't sit as well as others, such as the drum and bass track "The Daily Routine". While it is a driving, trance-like song for the first half, an overpowering argument comes in and takes over, changing the mood completely.
Blockhead's third definitely has a more trip-hop, downtempo and ambient sound to it than its precedors. There are wonderful, classic samples spread out all over the album, which really give an authentic and retro/vintage feel to the album. These samples, each carefully hand-picked, have been meticulously layered together over one another in perfection. This is not an album for single use, but rather repeated listens. There are so many details and precision to be discovered, that many will begin to appear only after a couple listens have soaked in. One must be careful not to drift in and out of focus while experiencing this album, as without full concentration is simply becomes left and forgotten in the background. It is an album of great variety, with samples ranging from classical guitar, ambient, to moments of gospel, Middle Eastern sounds and spoken word.. although not always in English.