Nate Connelly: A Dream About Being Lost (Blind Colour)
Nate Connelly’s debut is a rather smart and sophisticated collection of tracks and songs that skirt the line between leftfield R&B and something more abstract, taking slight cues from Burial and his ilk. It has in common with those ghostly records the sense of disembodied and manipulated vocals and phrases, but it’s balanced out by a distinctly more human vibe on maybe half of these cuts. “Some Faith” is a perfect opener, starting unassumingly enough with some light rhythm and understated bass tempered by some surface noise. The sampled vocals that circle overhead fit the tone of Connelly’s intro quite well. At times Connelly’s combination of wistful songwriting and beatmaking recalls the earnest laptop torch songs of Halls, but the timbre is distinctly different. But there’s some more soul in here, a different kind of groove and sensibility; one only need to hear “Tired Waiting” to get it immediately. Ruby Pemberton’s vocal is sly and seductive, complementing Connelly’s production really sweetly.
That there are more complete songs present in the tracklist makes the album flow very differently than it would if they were all just cut-ups. That doesn’t mean that his more sample-laden beatmaking excursions aren’t any less worthwhile; “Would I Be Where I Belong,” “Similar to a Simulated Simulation,” and “I Form a Club” skip and stutter like Mount Kimbie at their finest, but with a gloomy haze that skews it toward a slightly warmer sound. That sense of fragility translates into something even more delicate with Amy Robina’s vocals on “A Dream About Being Lost,” a sort of laptop folk dirge, really evocative stuff. That the two closing tracks are so purely electronic by contrast is a smart move, giving the closing of the album a little more of an edge. It’s an accomplished and dreamy album of tracks that straddle the line between beats and songs, drawing inspiration from different sides of the spectrum and pushing them together in interesting ways. Highly recommended.