Pitchfork (Website) - "[P]ainfully raw, emotionally generous, politically charged, intensely intelligent..."
Clash (magazine) - "[L]ike much of main man Dean Blunt's work it blurs the lines between sincerity and parody and the surreal humour and jarring sounds could have come straight outta Blue Jam."
DJ: DJ Escrow.
Dean Blunt's 2014 album Black Metal seemed to be far more influenced by '80s college rock than his previous work (the album was fittingly released by Rough Trade), but it contained a significant amount of hip-hop as well. He followed the album with an EP titled Babyfather, which was song-based in the manner of Black Metal, and followed that with releases by Babyfather, an abrasive experimental hip-hop trio rounded out by DJ Escrow and Gassman D. Escrow is credited as hosting the project's debut album for Hyperdub, and he appears to have a digitally altered helium-pitched voice similar to Quasimoto, leading one to question whether it's Blunt's alter ego (even though Escrow has appeared during Babyfather's performances). While Blunt's previous solo albums were introspective, particularly addressing his breakup with former bandmate Inga Copeland, the Babyfather album expands upon the anti-police undercurrent hinted at during Black Metal songs like "50 Cent." BBF is a more thorough examination of the struggles faced by black people growing up in London. The album opens with a five-minute loop of the words "This makes me proud to be British" -- spoken by Craig David accepting the award for Best R&B Act at the 2000 MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards -- over delicate acoustic guitar plucking. This is only interrupted by a ringtone and a police siren, two sounds that reoccur throughout the album. The looped sample also appears on two other tracks spread across the album's 53-minute runtime. BBF is a difficult, unpredictable collage of dub rhythms, frequent interruptions from Escrow, and Blunt's own (relatively) calm singing and rapping. There are also occasional appearances from an angry, cursing woman who seems to be throwing someone out of her home. Most blistering of all are two harsh noise tracks, "Prolific Daemons" and "Flames," which express rage in the most startling way possible. The album is full of venom and accusation, often aimed at the police, but as deliberately challenging as the album seems, there are some truly affecting moments for those patient enough to dig deep through it. "Deep," one of three tracks co-produced by Arca, is particularly searing, with sorrowful strings over a trippy beat and Escrow rapping about not being able to let out the pain in his chest. He begins "The Realness" by advising "Don't waste time doing a crime if it's already been done" before encouraging the listener to rise up and advance. Escrow's album-concluding message expresses his intention to unify and make peace. Even more so than Blunt's previous work, BBF is a difficult, sometimes impenetrable listen, but it's the most powerful statement he's made yet. ~ Paul Simpson