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Davidge - Slo Light (Review)

Davidge, Slo Light

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

HAVING helped birth some of the most arresting and innovative music in the electronic/orchestral genre of the Nineties and Noughties with Massive Attack, Neil Davidge – aka Davidge – now releases his long awaited debut solo album, Slo Light, and seldom disappoints.

An album deeply-schooled in Bristol, beats, electronica, soundtracks, orchestral music and more, Slo Light seeks to create a fantasy world in which tension, darkness and beauty find the perfect equilibrium. It boasts high quality production values that also embrace Davidge’s work as a composer of prestigious film, TV and games ventures, as well as a pop sensibility capable of appealing to the mainstream.

What’s more, it recruits a diverse collection of vocalists who help to lend each track a distinct identity of its own.

One of the standout moments is undoubtedly the Claire Tchaikowski featuring Anyone Laughing, which combines a serene, jaw-droppingly beautiful central vocal with swirling electronic arrangements. It boasts an almost hypnotic quality that’s futuristic, reassuring, cinematic and even Vangelis-leaning. If you don’t swoon over this track (if nothing else) then you may want to check out your ear-drums!

That said, the album is shot through with great moments, even if not every track can scale the same heights as the very best moments.

The atmospheric beats and electronic arrangements of Hummingbird, featuring Patrick Duff’s vocals, hint at Massive Attack before veering off into their own haunting, creepy path. It’s a disorientating track in many ways but highly compelling.

Album opener Slo Light also unfolds in Massive Attack territory, its hushed beats reminiscent of Teardrop, and lending that sense of welcome familiarity to help kick-start proceedings. But the electronic, and almost glockenspiel-like elements, soon create a soundscape of its own that’s intoxicating, and embellished still further by Stephonik Youth’s vocals.

Cate Le Bon lends her vocals to the more urgent, driving Gallant Foxes, which lays down some dancefloor credentials (and reminds of Trent Reznor’s work), while Home From Home employs a strikingly melancholy central piano motif and a moody vocal from Low Roar that also impresses, while slow-building the track into something that would equally impress Hans Zimmer (circa Inception).

There’s a driving, industrial edge to They Won’t Know that shows how Davidge can change pace at will. But it’s arguably when keeping things slower and allowing tracks to drip with atmosphere that he finds his biggest successes.

That Fever, featuring Tchaikowski again, is another favourite, while Sleepwalking has a beguiling quality courtesy of EMI Green’s haunted, sorrowful vocals.

Jhelisa Anderson purrs some seductive vocals over Sensor (another of those mellow, late night offerings that are beautifully realised, complete with strings), while there’s a final dose of urgency in the insistent electronic loops and spoken word vocals of Duff on parting shot, Forty Days in The Wilderness. But again, there’s the sense that Davidge’s best work remains that which sets up moody landscapes, in which his beautiful arrangements can really shine.

Put together, though, Slo Light is worth the wait for his first solo outing.

Download picks: Anyone Laughing, Slo Light, Home From Home, That Fever, Sensor

Track listing:

  1. Slo Light featuring Stephonik Youth
  2. Gallant Foxes featuring Cate Le Bon
  3. How Was Your Day featuring Karima Francis
  4. Home From Home featuring Low Roar
  5. They Won’t Know featuring Stephonik Youth
  6. That Fever featuring Claire Tchaikowski
  7. Riot Pictures featuring Sandie Shaw
  8. Zero One Zero featuring Stephonik Youth
  9. Sleepwalking featuring Emi Green
  10. Anyone Laughing featuring Claire Tchaikowski
  11. Hummingbird featuring Patrick Duff
  12. Sensor featuring Jhelisa Anderson
  13. Forty Days In The Wilderness featuring Patrick Duff