"Music by Cavelight" by Blockhead

Blockhead
Music by Cavelight

Ninja Tune
2004

Review

This album is a moody instrumental Hip-Hop classic. Blockhead is maybe better known as the person responsible for many of the beats on Aesop Rock's records, but he definitely made a statement on his own on his instrumental Ninja Tune releases (this being the first of them). I say "moody" but what I really mean to say is "a bit down". Most of the songs on this album are introspective and capable of causing even the least philosophical person turn the eye inwards only to become a champion of introspection. Even after many listens it still manages to have that effect on me.

On this album, Blockhead takes downtempo Hip-Hop beats and blends them with slowed-down jazz horns, bass guitars, and haunting piano interpolations. This is a great album to do something creative to and for me it has been a "let's get some writing done" and "let's write some code" staple. Vocal samples are used sparingly and when they are used it is usually to say something to make you think about your life. Whether it's the Some nights it just gets worse than others, I feel terrible from "You've Got Maelstrom" or the If it's getting harder to face every day don't let it show, just let it go from "Triptych pt.2", it is usually used to bring home the reflective point of the song. Take the following line from "Triptych pt.3":

Ever have the feeling that the world has gone and left you behind?

...after hearing this track a few times you might think to yourself, "Well, now that you mention it..."

"Sunday Seance" to me represents the very best of Blockhead. It is the essence of how can you make you feel something when he is firing on all cylinders. This song is just so strong in terms of causing you to resonate emotion. It fills your ears with layers upon layer of sound and makes you reflect on your hopes, dreams, and desires and about all the times that none of these wishes came to be. Still, the song manages to make you feel like getting up again to fight another round.

Another standout is "Triptych pt.1" with its haunting piano sample that helps bring home the message of the promise of love. In fact, the only track that does not manage to hold my interest is " Bullfight In Ireland" and this track would probably be rated much higher on any other instrumental album - it just pales in comparison to the other tracks on this particular album.

This is almost a Jazz-record in a lot of ways. It is constructed nearly entirely of samples. There are no synthesizers to be found here. Just old-fashioned Jazz instruments, dirty drum breaks, and the occasional vocal sample and turntable scratch. It is moody, introspective, and just all around brilliant.

4.091 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Insomniac Olympics (05:07)
2. Carnivores Unite (04:47) 4
3. You've Got Maelstrom (04:47) 4
4. Sunday Seance (05:27) 5
5. A Better Place (04:27) 3
6. Road Rage Breakdown (04:15) 4
7. Triptych, Part 1 (04:04) 5
8. Triptych, Part 2 (03:05) 3
9. Triptych, Part 3 (02:54) 4
10. Jet Son (04:22) 4
11. Breathe and Start (04:22) 5
12. Music by Cavelight (06:43) 4