Blond:ish ‘Welcome to the Present’ – ALBUM REVIEW

This Blond:ish article was written by Chris Hobbs, a GIGsoup contributor.  Edited by Hazel Webster.

The first full length album from House duo Blond:ish is an eclectic album, amping up the psychedelic elements of tracks from previous EPs and presenting them alongside new explorations in psychedelia and EDM. Samples of spoken voice, world instruments and natural environments showcase a myriad of influences, as well as add a certain depth to the sound.

The opening four tracks of the album segue seamlessly from one to another, focusing on a soft, ambiguous descent through implicit elation, darkness and imaginary landscapes. The opening track blends dance music elements with introspective, delay-heavy instrumentation alongside a smattering of recordings of natural environments and spoken voice.

In ‘Los Pensamientos’, a distant male voice echoes around unfamiliar surroundings, as if there is a human world out there, just beyond your soft, ethereal limbo. The darker nature of psychedelia becomes apparent in ‘Lucy’s Affair (Slow Version)’ as dissonant swells and distant pseudo-vocal sounds break the ebb and flow of soft beats. ‘Endless Games’ then once again showcases Blond:ish‘s ability to effectively reimagine their previous tracks. The haunting vocal melody reintroduces a much welcome point of human contact in the surreality of the opening tracks and becomes more focussed around drum beats.

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In ‘Nada Brahma’ and ‘Moonvalley’, the mood changes and the focus shifts to samples of world music. Whilst there is a certain playfulness and sense of wonder in ‘Nada Brahma’, the repetitive instrumental material is less successful than the ambient moods of the previous tracks. These tracks feel much more heavy-handed than anything that preceded them and, whilst they are effective enough as individual tracks, they feel out of place in the context of this album.

In ‘Velvet Wave’, another reworking, the playful vocals, as well as world and house influences, seem to marry together much more effectively. The following three tracks adopt much more of a ‘Psychedelic House’ feel, with a focus on songs that would feel at home on a dance floor. Unfortunately, each of these tracks have poor and unsatisfying ‘fade-out’ endings. This is a shame considering the lengths at which Blond:ish have gone to to try and make their first album a continuous, psychedelic experience. There is a fantastic, crunchy clap throughout ‘Jupiter & Jaguar’, whilst ‘Inner Jungle’ contains a particularly bizarre vocal performance which sandwiches a wonderful, soft, plucked string section. The album then ends, somewhat abruptly, with ‘It Starts Now’.

All in all, ‘Welcome to The Present’ is a really mixed bag. While the opening four tracks are full of flowing, downtempo introspection, the album takes an odd, almost prog rock-esque twist with its reliance on world music influence in the middle of the album. Whilst the more typical house tracks on the album are generally successful, it skews the structure of the album, making it feel less satisfying to listen to as a whole. There is definitely a lot of joy to be found in ‘Welcome to the Present’s eclecticism, but its effectiveness as a full psychedelic experience can sometimes feel a little strained.

‘Welcome to the Present’ is available now via Kompakt.