Review: Blame & Justice - Nightvision

(Originally posted: Jan 24, 2019)

Today we're going to discuss a recent favorite, fresh off a Moving Shadow dubplate from '94. Oh yes, you know what time it is:

Jungle vibes? Turn it up a bit. "Open your mind and your eyes won't see me." What does this mean? Diva shouting over the abstract field of sound. The heat doesn't start until 1:45, but by that point you already know every element in the tune. Really, that's when they finished introducing themselves and start getting to work.

The drums feel like some familiar breaks gone vague, chopped up and pieced together, unpredictable as expected. No amens nor two-stepping in sight. The complexity! Delays overlapping and phasing, polyrhythms and proto-IDM roll by. Rudiments too rapid to parse repeated and juggled, each pattern familiar but somehow different above that unchanging deep bass kick.

Floating higher above that noise is the decade's warmest synth pad. A pad made of stillness, air itself, clouds drifting over the night-time sky. It barely has harmonics; it would go muddy in most tracks, unnoticed. But here, as the only harmonic element in the universe, it has space through which its form can emerge from the cosmic dust. Its chords of arbitrary complexity, not too con/dis-sonant, no forward movement, instead a perpetual folding upon itself, painting the background as it goes.

Is that it? What else is there? Echoing sampled 808 cowbell? A little off-key bleepabloop in the breakdown? The assemblage doesn't seem like enough, yet it nudges the unplaceable sensibility toward a real location: Detroit (techno). The cowbell enhances the rhythmic machinery, and the dissonance hearkens back to those janky early days of technology, when piezoelectrics and modems would interrupt your pious thoughts, audible proof that you live in the godforsaken future.

What's the point of all this? Well, it's dance music, kinda. The beats uncomfortably straddle the line between "fun" and "erudite". The deeper experience is "mood", you cop a "vibe", ya dig? This isn't music to "listen to" but music to "have on". And while it plays, the listener reconstructs the world around them as though it all had flowed straight through from their ears to their eyes. A novel reality. Open your mind and your eyes won't see me. You might say that Blame & Justice gave you Nightvision.

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