Dean Blunt: Black Metal 2 review – instantly familiar yet utterly unknowable

Dean Blunt’s first band stole the name of celebrated rap video director Hype Williams and became infamous for playing the sort of gig where no one present was entirely sure it was really happening. They peaked with 2010’s The Throning, a deranged Sade cover. Since Blunt’s 2013 solo album, The Redeemer, the prolific Londoner has made music that finds surprising concord between rap and alt-rock. He samples anyone from the Pastels to A$AP Rocky, swaddles strings with defiantly lo-fi beats and adds vocals with winning vulnerability. He is often longing for something he can’t quite get, thwarted by the twin sirens of drugs and sex.

The cover art of Black Metal 2 reprises 2014’s Black Metal, just using a graphic figure “2” from Dr Dre’s 2001 cover, while the songs similarly build nests of references to Blunt and his rapper peers. It’ll never be for everyone, but Blunt has polished his fragmentary, magpie aesthetic to the point of perfection. Mugu is a lovely, scattered thing, then Semtex travels the wilder edges of trip-hop. Last track The Rot is almost as delicately discombobulated as his masterpiece The Narcissist. Songs instantly familiar yet utterly unknowable.

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