Archived Story

British musician shows promise on debut offering

Published 6:26am Sunday, June 9, 2013

A small collective of talented English electronic musicians is slowly taking shape.

After James Blake’s rise to popularity with his self-titled debut and 2013’s “Overgrown,” his friend is releasing his debut, “For Years,” under the stage name Airhead.

Airhead is Rob McAndrews, who grew up with Blake and won’t escape comparisons to his friend.

McAndrews, a multi-instrumentalist and DJ, sticks to the instruments on his debut release, allowing guests singers to take the reins. The album opens with “Wait,” a slow, sparse track with female vocals that’s sharp when it needs to be.

The sparse music often plays like a soundtrack, with atmospheric shimmers of sound playing over R&B drumbeats.

The album is a well paced and carried along threads of sound woven together, though there are no shortage of dense moments.

There’s something distinctly English about the album, which may be linked to the dense, sparse moments when vocals are abandoned for experimentations in churning snippets of emotion-inducing sound. American musicians are often less patient with what some may see as self-serving asides.

The album is relatively short at just over 39 minutes, but the music often blends into one longer song.

“For Years” feels a bit like the first few Flying Lotus albums: The musical knowhow and promise is hard to question, but it’s still a touch unrefined. His best is almost certainly ahead.


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