Album Review: Blockhead / ‘Interludes After Midnight’ (Ninja Tune)


Tony Simon drops off instrumentalism back to when trip-hop was a misunderstood. Sometimes this is all you want — the prophetic title does mean that at least Blockhead makes for decent bedtime listening, stirring in nice folk/ethnic/nursery flavors, as on “Panic in Funkytown,” in the vein of last album The Music Scene. The best results lie in the trippier and tranquilizing tracks with more of a game plan to slip away into the night. “Hungover Like Whoa” is like a cooling sponge scraping across a needy forehead, with “Midnight Blue” explicitly miserable.

Sticking to a beats-as-beats theory, a smoker’s or advertiser’s delight, makes a fifth album disappointingly stubborn from a lauded producer. All Interludes After Midnight does is bring up the same old names from hip-hop-tinged collages from way back when. Rather than samples being designed by patchwork, everything is called from a queue after waiting its turn, and are part of an ever steady pace. It’s a reliable record if an unadventurous one, teasing you with what might have been, and though it can never be accused of being half-cocked (or even particularly flat-sounding), Blockhead emits an ambivalence leaning more towards the functional than the inspirational.
File under: RJD2, 2econd Class Citizen, DJ Krush