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Shade: House of Silk (Ninja Tune)

have a bit of a love/hate relationship with “hashtag IRL,” the
cut that kicks off House of Silk. It’s just over two minutes long and
hangs on Nabihah Iqbal’s looping babygirl vocal bits, a sort of
hashtag and internet shorthand word salad: “like, like / searching,
searching / hashtag / OMG / LOL / WTF / please follow me.” It’s
simultaneously catchy and distracting, so much so that the music
around it feels almost incidental. But the clean melodic groove of
“Marble Air,” the cut that follows, is more immediate and less
schticky, especially about halfway through when gentle synth arps
undulate overhead. The almost library sound arrangements of the rest
of these cuts somehow betrays the drollness of the opener, eschewing
its underhanded commentary for more straightforward melodic patterns
and steady, simple grooves. And there’s something quite nice about
them, almost naive in their simplicity, but I can’t help but feel as
though the sounds herein are ultimately a little basic.

that’s what the title “House of Silk” denotes — a sort of
easiness, almost to a fault. The synth sounds throughout feel
unsophisticated (by design perhaps?) and it all feels a bit demo-y to
my ears, a curious choice for Ninja Tune, considering that label’s
often polished and elaborate output — this certainly feels quite at
odds with the sonic riches of a more polished Ninja Tune veteran act
like Amon Tobin or Machinedrum. If all of this feels like mere
criticism, it’s not entirely… there’s something refreshing to me
about the rawness of these tracks, unadorned and basic. I still find
myself wishing it were just a little more adventurous, less safe.
However, hearing House of Silk in the context of Iqbal’s greater
Throwing Shade repertoire, it somehow rests more comfortably, feeling
less basic amidst its companions. And for all of my picking it apart
here, perhaps it’s unfair to do so, considering how often I return to
the music, especially the goofy looping opening cut — oddly
infectious, almost in spite of itself.

Buy it: Ninja Tune