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A Blues

Rat Heart | Shotta Tapes | STD002


Properly head turning album of completely unexpected + genius

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Format: Vinyl
"A vybe-fritzed turn for cult property Rat Heart, assembling his virtual ensemble for a properly head turning album of completely unexpected + genius shimmering blues, high tog ambient fantasies and Thriller-esque gloop somewhere along the crooked axis of Dean Blunt, Neil Young, Actress, Lewis, The Durutti Column and Ulla. We mean this in the strictest and truest sense - theres nothing quite like it. One of the most brilliantly original and real records we’ve heard in years.

‘A Blues’ renders Rat Heart at his most sanguine, sprawled, and shine-eyed for 46 minutes of evocative, etheric smudge. It’s music for lights out and eyelids at half mast, swaddled in tape noise and reverberating to the rafters with a soothing plangency and agenda that’s hard not to obsess over. There's something rare and palpable about Rat Heart's music that sets it at odds with pretty much all of his contemporaries; nothing about "A Blues" feels overworked or precious, instead there's a raw emotionality that roots it in punk, DIY and no-wave ethics, if not aesthetics. From the viscous opening chords of 'CJHK', it's as if we’re kicked down a well, primed to expect anything. Gutter-dwelling dungeon drones give way to elegiac vocals and distant, mollified percussion, extending the picture sideways, but doggedly refusing to edge into widescreen. There's storytelling here, but in a highly personalised language.

'Chikonga' pulls us face down thru an inch of mud and grot: iced, rolling pads are sequined with temple bells, wails, rumbling kicks and a saxophone that sound piped in from the Black Lodge. And after a brief moment of tape-dubbed gurgling and heavenly bliss ('Ratty's Reprise'), the ensemble hit us with an emotional gut punch, strumming jangled chords behind a papery gauze of white noise and bellowing half-audible words on 'The Relevant Elephant’. It’s just a total fucking heartbreaker.

Boogizm's vocals root the music in a songwriting tradition, but his songs sound as if they're coming from the top of the dome - we get a birds-eye view into his head, watching the grey cells languish in oil and water. He sings listlessly over blunted synth bleeps and vapor'd beatbox loops on '1 too many reds round ere', straddling the leylines between Actress and Scott Walker; on 'I'm a fucking songbird m8', he coos gentle chorals over spiralling bleep tek funk, evoking Sweet Exorcist and This Mortal Coil simultaneously.

Leaning into the passionate eclecticism of his utopian selection technique and the ruff immediacy of his production style, Rat Heart has followed a low-key classic album last year with a South Manchester ode to carbon 'n concrete - an all-time great. It's the sheer beauty of it that gets us - sodden Northern melancholy stick 'n poked with NYC funk, Chicago blues, and earnest digger's enthusiasm. Honestly, it destroys us."


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