Barbarossa (aka London based James Mathe) album “Bloodlines” finally arrives after a flurry of on-line interest. Since supporting POLIÇA at the Shepherds Bush Empire back in March 2013 the internet has been awash with recommendations for the artist, and in addition to this the pre-released single “The Load” was certainly an immediate attention grabber.
The good news is that the album is an accomplished release from an artist who already has a impressive CV, after working alongside the likes of Fence Collective and Jose Gonzales.
While its genre is of a synth/electronic nature there are certainly no thumping dance tracks on this release, but that’s not what this album is about. What you get is a clever mix of folk sounding music that has been beautifully and electronically mixed. There will no doubt be comparisons to Portishead and James Blake but this is an altogether more subdued affair. Alongside the excellent production you are introduced to the artist’s quite unique high pitched voice. On first listen I was worried it may be a little too ‘samey’ across the 10 songs. However, you soon realize that there is a real warmth and sincerity in the vocals and that they actually complement the instrumentation perfectly.
The track “Bloodline”, along with “Battles”, “Turbine” and “Pagliaccio” are the pick of the songs. The aforementioned “Pagliaccio” being the closest thing you will get to ‘high tempo’. It’s a nice collection of tracks but it feels like a bit of a starter, with the main dish still yet to come. It has beautiful tender qualities but tends to fade away towards its conclusion.
However, UK record label Memphis Industries should be encouraged by the overall quality of the album. They appear to be collecting a quite outstanding catalogue of artists (Dutch Uncles, POLIÇA, Field Music, Tokyo Police Club) and the addition of Barbarossa to this is certainly something to celebrate.
The full track listing is as follows…
A list of tour dates is also listed, below
9th September 2013 – Manchester, Castle Hotel
11th September 2013 – Brighton, The Green Door Store
13th September 2013 – London, Sebright Arms
19th September 2013 – Amsterdam, Paradiso
21st September 2013 – Paris, La Fleche D’Or
22nd September 2013 – Brussels, Botanique
24th September 2013 – Cologne, Studio 672
26th September 2013 – Frankfurt, Zoom
28th September 2013 – Berlin, Berlin Independent Night
29th September 2013 – Hamburg, Reeperbahn Festival
7th October 2013 – Atlanta, Terminal West
8th October 2013 – Carrboro, Cat’s Cradle
9th October 2013 – Baltimore, Ottobar
14th October 2013 – Denver, Summit Music Hall
15th October 2013 – Salt Lake City, The State Room
16th October 2013 – Reno, Knitting Factory
19th October 2013 – San Diego, The Loft
Download: Battles, Turbine and Pagliaccio
Rating: 3.5 out of 5