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Blogs 'N' Sods #9: Blank is the New Black

originally published 23 September 2014

Every year, there is always one emotionally wrought album released by an artist that just makes you say, “I know exactly how you feel”.

In 2014, that album is Blank Project, and that artist is Neneh Cherry. True, she has not released an album in 18 (!) years. Was it worth the wait?

The thing is, I fell in love with Cherry with my pick for my fave album of 1989, Raw Like Sushi. I played that cassette until all of my friends were sick of it. She was a more than a breath of fresh air: she truly blew away the competition in such a way that she stood on an island of her own creation. I had thought she had just gotten tired of the machine that is the music business after several years and decided to say, stuff it.

She had a reason to come back; a reason that just about all of us have to face sooner or later.

Many of the lyrics deal with the death of her mother and the way Cherry deals with it. Instead of being some melodramatic, weepy piece, she maneuvers around amazing synth and electronic beats and loops. This is due to music being performed by a European unit called RocketNumberNine, with the album was produced by Kieran Hebden, who is electronic and post-rock artist known as FourTet.

The album is incredibly moody without sinking into pathos. Double and triple entedres abound, and what can best be described as controlled chaos is everywhere. It isn’t a noisy affair, but rather a trip through that gauzy, smoky, misty lost wandering that only comes with the death of a loved one.

It is the sound of the past streaming back at you at 150 mph that hits you slowly and gently you like a soft wave of icy feathers. It is that netherworld of suddenly having to define your own destiny based upon your own direction, and wondering what impact you will have on your loved ones. It is the sound of when you realize your own mortality at that point where your rule book has yet to be finished.

You have to be unguarded enough to let this feeling in, and thus requires several spins just to be relaxed enough to allow the absortion to ink in. But once it does, get ready. The catharsis this albums brings is better than that prescription for anti-depressants your doctor gave you that insurance will cover with a $10 co-pay. Spend it on this instead.

Love to you all.

Ben Bear

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