By Ben Weinstein
Before Kanye took to Tidal and began the “Life of Pablo” rollout, London-based enigma Dean Blunt was notorious for altering (and often deleting) previously released albums, as well as uploading several distinct versions on several different platforms. The mastermind behind this ephemeral discography, however, proves even harder to trace than any of the vanished albums themselves. Following the release of his new EP “Soul On Fire” I found myself traversing internet rabbit-holes, trying to shed light on art pop’s most shadowy figure.
soul on fire – YouTube
Knowing that nothing is guaranteed when dealing with Dean Blunt, I wasn’t shocked when the first iteration of his new EP I found wasn’t “Soul On Fire,” but rather ‘soul on fire’: a 28-minute, DMX-sampling drone piece released last March on a YouTube channel that may or may not be Blunt’s. Yet Pitchfork assured me that the “Soul On Fire” I wanted featured A$AP Rocky, leading me to find the EP on SoundCloud and learn that he and Blunt have a rapport, as evidenced primarily by
Testing (album) – Wikipedia
If Dean Blunt can be considered an outsider artist, he has more access to the inside than any other. His having produced and written two songs on Rocky’s latest LP convinced me of this even before seeing “Soul On Fire” streaming via Billboard. His role on Blunt’s EP, so far as I can gather, is much less pronounced — namely, acting as his hype-man on opening track “CHANCER.” Blunt sounds authentic as he asserts, “I ain’t even gotta try that hard,” yet the moment still feels momentous and “Mellon Collie” over what may be a chopped sample of the strings from Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” if we are to believe
(Reddit) SOUL ON FIRE samples: deanblunt
Blunt claimed in a 2012 Guardian interview that Oasis’ “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory” is “the best album ever” and literally all he listened to “day in day out.” At this point Blunt’s devotees (for he hardly has casual listeners these days) know when to call bullshit on his claims (always), but for definite proof one needn’t look further than his sampling. Past sources range from Kate Bush to Smog to Psychic TV, so — if there’s an end-goal beyond his own entertainment — the Oasis reference might’ve served more as commentary on his relationship to Britain than as an expressed devotion to Britpop.
On “Soul On Fire,” Blunt pulls from the acoustic intro to Metallica’s “Battery” for closing track “BEEFA,” while mid-album highlight “A/X” creates a UK composite out of a Genesis guitar lick and Blunt’s approximation of the lyrics to Gang of Four’s “Love Like Anthrax.” The cut boasts a mesmerizing vocal feature from the nearly untraceable
Lady T (13) Discography at Discogs
The closest I could get to information about this mysterious Lady T (the 13th, apparently) was from an unreviewed bio published on Genius, written in Italian. “Lady T is a vocalist, rapper and Bolognese radio speaker” is what Google Translate fed me back. Her singing in English made me immediately dubious of this being the Lady T in question. With Blunt, however, this cast of elusive collaborators is routine. I run into similar difficulties with “BEEFA” singer Poison Anna. The remaining artists that Hyperdub Records lists as being featured on the EP — both London duo Jockstrap and prolific songwriter/composer/producer/past Blunt collaborator Mica Levi — aren’t given credit on any specific track, so…
It’s with these cold trails that I begrudgingly accept the fact that I won’t be the one to tear down Blunt’s expert self-mythologizing, no matter how much my review of his new EP might benefit from it. “Soul On Fire” is really, really good though.