Blue Sky Black Death – Late Night Cinema
Blue Sky Black Death lays down infinitely cinematic left-field instrumental hiphop with their latest album, in the process stretching the very definition of the genre into something altogether more epic and expansive. This LP widens the scope and practically begs for a dystopian sci-fi film to accompany its stately but tweaked out majesty. The duo, comprised of Kingston and Young God, threw down this sonic gauntlet at the feet of every other production wizard and studio sculptor last year and have yet to see a contender pick it up.
Of course, using the term ‘cinematic’ for an album with the word practically in its title may seem lazy, until you’ve spun this at a proper volume. There is no descriptor more apt or quick to pop into mind when listening. This aspect is nothing new in itself; merely raised to an unheard level and played with finesse and a keen ear for detail that lets the music step forward from a long line of atmospheric beat conductors into it’s own wide screen realm.
To put it in relative (and entirely ignorable) terms, this feels as if Dr. Dre were abducted by extraterrestrials and dropped off in a state of the art London studio with no memory of his prior life, accompanied only by his prodigious skills behind the boards and cryptic instructions to make a masterpiece with the resources at hand. All apologies for the seemingly facetious metaphor but if you found yourself nodding at the notion, you’re probably already listening.
Late Night Cinema simply forces a smile at the sheer virtuosity and breadth of vision presented. No song ends the way it began, each track an internal journey presented with a bravado betraying the confidence these guys have in their ability to lay out a fully fleshed out song sans the crutch of vocals or obvious hooks. Utilizing everything from live instrumentation to indecipherable samples to what sounds like a full orchestra, they throw everything which works into the mix and leave no stone unturned in the search for a level of the stratosphere in which to comfortably glide. Plucked strings, fat horns, crunchy bass, snippets of dialogue, rapping, singing, and found sounds work their way into every crevice of the mix. The aural environment is packed to the gills and populated with stylistic genius. Though the nature is sprawling and the landscape expansive, there is simply no wasted space within this record. Every slavishly worked over millisecond of sound feels buffed to a sheen and ready for the close inspection of a jeweler’s eye. Honestly, I can’t recommend this enough.