sun 23/11/2014

CD: Neneh Cherry - Blank Project | New music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Neneh Cherry - Blank Project

One-time Brit-hopper returns to solo arena on top form

Neneh Cherry: music for motherhood

“Good things come to those who wait” sings Neneh Cherry on “Everything”, from her new album, and the 17 years since her last solo album certainly has been a long wait. She’s right though - Blank Project has good things in abundance.

RocketNumberNine provide industrial beats and a backing that is sparse and frequently conveys paranoia and feelings of pressure and claustrophobia. This has been shaped further by producer Kieran Hebden, of Four Tet fame, into sounds that often suggest Massive Attack or ambient dubstepper Burial. At times Blank Project also recalls the arrangements of Neneh’s 2012 collaboration with Swedish punk-jazz trio The Thing, The Cherry Thing. High on rhythms and percussion and low on conventional melodies, it certainly isn’t easy listening but is frequently bold and challenging, with harsh electronica providing the only accompaniment to Neneh’s warm vocals. That said, there is no way that Blank Project could be described as soulless, as it still suggests a qualified optimism throughout.

“Across the Water” begins the album with a slice of beat poetry and a sparse drum sound. This then fades into the spikey electronica of the title track, a sound echoed in pieces like “Spit Three Times” and “Everything”. There are other textures too, with grooves like “Dossier”, “Weightless” and “Out of the Black” (a duet with Robyn) that in a parallel universe would be filling dance floors across the country, as well as the beautiful post-industrial torch song, “422”.

Blank Project is the work of a true musical eclectic who never seems to follow fashion but often finds herself leading it. It is an emotionally raw album that sees her collaborating with an edgy electronic sound while addressing real subjects like motherhood, relationships and lust in a complex world. It’s good to have her back, still exuding the sassiness that has been her signature since she exploded into public consciousness with debut single “Buffalo Stance” in 1988.

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