Blond:ish make the type of woozy, mystic electronic music that manages to capture both the essence of walking home through the park while simultaneously struggling to walk through a packed warehouse. Their long-awaited debut full-length sits perfectly in the roster of Kompakt, a label ubiquitous in the electronic community and synonymous with evocative, ambient techno for more than 15 years.
Making their return to the label after releasing lead single Endless Games earlier this year, Canadian duo Anstascia d’Elene Corniere and Vivie-ann Bakos continue developing the sound that set them apart on previous Kompact releases Lovers In Limbo, Inward Visions and Wunderkammer. Each track is a densely layered exploration, fusing experimental instrumentation and atmospheric psychedelia to surround the listener in what can rightly be called ‘the experience’. Departing from the club-friendly comfort zone established on their superb 12”s this may not be what most were expecting from the duo’s first album. It plays out more as an exercise in patience and expansion, creating tension with a combination of beatless ambiance, polyglot vocal samples and lush synthesiser sounds.
Album opener Shy Grass immediately alerts the listener that this isn’t going to be the usual, concept-less collection of dancefloor DJ tools. The first minute sounds like a pre-gig sound check in much the same way as Layo & Bushwacka’s Midi Tune Up did (itself a debut album opener), then leisurely slides into the first meditative groove of the album. Los Pensamientos continues this beat-free direction, this time warming up the down-tuned keys that will come to feature throughout, always played out for maximum jarring effect to snap the listener back into focus. Teasing the listener further, fan favourite Lucy’s Affair (the first of their eps to feature on the album) is given a highly immersive revamp and is transformed into a dark sonic voyage. It’s not until 4th track Endless Games that some of that tension relieves itself and the first vaguely club-friendly beat reveals itself. The mood is still dark and fluid, but some warmth is tempted out of the well-rounded percussion and by the songs climax you could be midway through an Involver-style breakdown. A lofty compliment.
Nada Brahma drops back into bossa nova cymbals and a blissful guitar loop, continuing the weighted progression and by Myein Caravan’s descent you realise the atmosphere has been steadily intensifying. The latter section of the album awards a fraction of the tech-house payoff avid Blond:Ish fans may have been expecting, culminating with Inner Jungle. The whole album invokes the heady days of trip-hop, utilising worldly samples and influences garnered from the duo’s recent travels through South America, Mexico and India and those that started the album recognising the parallels with the Late Night Tales series won’t be disappointed with the philosophical spoken word album closer.
Welcome To The Present works as an intriguing foray into the world of the LP. An intoxicating debut full length that defies all preconceptions expected of the artists and provides food for what will surely be one heck of a remix album.
LUCY’S AFFAIR (ALBUM VERSION)
ENDLESS GAMES (ALBUM VERSION)
VELVET WAVE (ALBUM VERSION)
JUPITER & JAGUAR
IT STARTS NOW
Released: October 23 2015 2xLP+CD edition pressed on 180gr vinyl and includes a CD version of the album (no download code)
•Words by Bryn Williams•