The Music Scene cover

The Music Scene

Released

The sonic architect behind some of Aesop Rock’s greatest early records broke out on his own for Ninja Tune with 2004’s Music By Cavelight, but the producer’s third album for the label is where he really started to transcend the already-enviable “dude who gave us all those sick beats on Labor Days” status and reveal himself as one of instrumental hip-hop’s most emotively complex beat-borne storytellers. The songs on The Music Scene are somber without getting too maudlin about it, a sort of bad-vibe frankness permeating the low-level anxiety beneath his agreeably gloomy compositions. If that sounds like a tough time, it can be — the furious domestic-squabble found recording in the mix of “The Daily Routine”’s brought-to-a-boil sludge and a Wilder Zoby-vocodered Troutman-faces-the-void loneliness in the heart of “Four Walls” see to that. But that’s not the same thing as a bad time, and his lighter-touch moments like the breezy-listening “The Prettiest Sea Slug” and the sinuous MENA funk bounce of “Tricky Turtle” prove that Blockhead’s got more joy to his vibe than your typical downtempo bummer merchant.

Nate Patrin

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