The Needle Drop

Blockhead - Bells and Whistles

New MusicContributor Jones2 Comments

A catalog as wide and definitive as that of producer Blockhead is most definitely one to be lauded and respected. Having worked with the likes of emcees like Murs and Aesop Rock as well as with labels including Defnitive Jux and Rhymesayers is unquestionably nothing to sneeze at. So it should come as no surprise that his latest solo project, Bells and Whistles, remains in the vain of a soundscape that's pleasantly ominous, windswept and spacious--while also dense, free-flowing and heroically diverse. The sound selections and production choices by Blockhead are nothing if not strategically challenging and chilling. The background sampled voices on tracks like "You'll Get Over It" and "On The Back Of A Golden Dolphin" add an air of tense mystery to Blockhead's beautifully blighted production. He throws in everything but the kitchen sink that will take any unfamiliar listeners' ears on a musical whirlwind: tribal drums, maracas and hand claps, movie sound effects samples, old school R&B melodies and voices, classical big band pianos, deep computerized synthesizers, off-kilter strong instruments. Further, Blockhead literally creates songs within songs, as he effortlessly transitions from one sample to the next without batting an eye, and expects the listener to keep up. And although Bells and Whistles does unfortunately begin to wane in certain areas, it's a body of work that deserves several start-to-finish listens to grasp the whole of Blockhead's grand pursuit of creating some of the most wide-ranging and nonconformist Hip Hop production.

- Ron Grant