Neneh Cherry's Blank Project is her first solo album in 16 years - a collaboration with RocketNumberNine, produced by Four Tet, and featuring a guest appearance by Robyn. The 10-track album, recorded and mixed over a 5-day period follows 2012's The Cherry Thing, a collaborative record with free jazz, noise collective The Thing, which featured new versions of songs by The Stooges, MF Doom, Ornette Coleman, amongst others.
While her energy and demeanor may not have changed since the days of Rip Rig + Panic, musically, Blank Project is a departure from anything Neneh has previously done, initially written as a means of working through personal tragedy. What stands out upon first listen is the album's sparseness: loose drums and a few synthesizers are the only accompaniment to Neneh's wildly poetic, sometimes-spoken, sometimes-screeching, soul-flooded and raw vocals. The space created by this minimal aesthetic leaves room for occasional pistes and flurries of rapid, yet throbbing and thunderous instrumentation. Featuring combined elements of beat poetry, avant-electronica and beautiful vocal melodies, it's a record that uses simple ideas to create something entirely original. And despite the personal struggles, Neneh was working through in writing this new material, the songs are far from introverted.
Neneh continues to arrive at moments in musical history when there is an opportunity to subvert ideas of popular culture. She is subverting once again, only this time, although this record is musically bold, Neneh sees the stasis she's challenging isn't musical or societal, but her own.
To kick off 2014, Neneh revealed the album's closer, "Everything," as well as a remix of the track by iconic techno producer/DJ Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer.
Neneh will perform at Rough Trade East in London on Tuesday evening 2/25, as well as a sold out London show at Concrete on Wednesday 2/26.
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