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chris herbert - Mezzotint
Kranky has looked to the hallowed lands of Birmingham for the second time here (those of you in the know will have recognised the cover photograph on the 'Kompilation 2' a couple of years back.) to find sound artist Chris Herbert, who harks from the musical breeding-ground of Moseley. Yep it's the same Moseley that featured so prominently on 'that' Ocean Colour Scene album title, and the same Moseley that is well known in some circles for farting out UB40, but don't hold that against it, Chris Herbert knows how to pick and choose his influences, and on 'Mezzotint' only the brightest shine through. Within minutes of the album's opening track 'Stab City' (a reference to Birmingham? Surely not!) we are thrust into a neon-drenched world of darkness and rainfall, mis-judged glances and rude altercations - this is a sub-aquatic soundtrack to the underbelly of city living, bringing to mind the darker moments of Stars of the Lid or William Basinski for starters, and giving a nod towards Deaf Center at their most atmospheric. The haunted, smudged lo-fi characteristic is kept up throughout the record but is punctuated by occasionally breathtaking bubbles of melody which get lodged in your memory like nursery rhymes from another generation. Those of you familiar with the classic Kranky sound - Loscil, Pan American and Windy and Carl, shouldn't be strangers to deep, submerged ambience, but Herbert gives us his spin on things, his deeply British vision which comes across as honest and involving. Mixing a bass-heavy dub aesthetic he manages to approach Chain Reaction territory with spacious reverberating passages that wouldn't sound out of place played loud in a warehouse in Cologne, but the more you try to compare 'Mezzotint' to another record, the more it serves to surprise you, to show you something else about it's rich sound palette. Like the mezzotint Herbert has named the album after; the closer you look at the music, the more it reveals itself, the tiniest of sounds making the most affecting of revelations. Beautiful.