Blossom – Blue Balloons

coverOn December 21st, 2011, Export Label gave birth to a new release: Blossom’s “Blue Balloons”. Though I should have had an eye out for this artist from his earlier work for Export Label, Blossom’s debut took me by surprise. “Blue Balloons” transported me back to some of my fondest memories in my long-standing marriage with downtempo. And it’s not because I write for netlabelism that I’m not allowed to have an extra-marital affaire or two with commercial releases. Please allow me a moment to indulge in a few paragraphs of reminiscing about two of my longest serving mistresses: The Cinematic Orchestra and Bonobo.

Blossom’s “Noon’s Bourg” reminds me very much of The Cinematic Orchestra’s tracks “Awakening of a Woman” and “Evolution” on their masterpiece “Man with a Movie Camera”. The patient way in which the double bass and subtle string touches enrich the overal sound, the latent energy in the drums, the sublime orchestration of a large amount of instruments without losing the feeling of space in the composition: it’s all there. This is by far the best track of the album, and in my opinion one of the very best of 2011.

“Nightbeat”, on the other hand is a little less high culture jazz, and a little more triphop, of the kind contained in Bonobo’s “Black Sands”. Here the double bass takes a commanding lead of the tune, instead of reinforcing the melody. Combined with grittier drum loops this is the ultimate head bobbing experience. Aptly named, “Nightbeat” is perfect for midnight walks through your urban environment of choice.

So Blossom measures up to the big names in the genre. But it’s more than that, I don’t want to give the impression that we simply have a talented copycat on our hands here. On the contrary, the entire album basks in an atmosphere that is distinctly his own. “Eternaldream” is a good illustration of how Blossom effortlessly meanders through different rhythms and soundsets, while unmistakingly leaving his mark on the resulting composition.

There is but one part of the release which is less than stellar: the details for the release mention a bonus track. Apart from my dislike of cheap marketing phrases like “bonus track”, my resentment stems mostly from the fact that they made a typo there. I’m pretty sure they meant bogus track. I reviewed ‘Cuefx – Whale EP‘ a few months ago, and let’s just say that for all its potential, I was pretty disappointed by that release. The only thing impressive about it is that Blossom managed to make a remix of the original track that sounded decent. So while I salute his efforts at plastic surgery, there’s no reason to include that track again here.

Overall, “Blue Balloons” is a very mature-sounding album. If this really is a debut, we’re in for some very good releases from Blossom in the future. The incredible mix of the best downtempo has to offer coupled with great production skills (especially on the drums) indicate an artist with the potential to make it big. Very big. The only reason this album didn’t make it to my “Best of 2011″ list is because of its release date late December, preventing a clear judgment on whether I would still be blown away after listening to it a few hundred times. The answer to that is a resounding yes. Highly recommended.

Blossom – Noon’s Bourg

 

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This review was originally published on netlabelism.com, an online music magazine covering netlabel culture and releases. I was editor for the magazine from January 2011 until December 2014.