Blood Orange: Finger on the Pulse
With "Angel's Pulse", Devonte Hynes releases an eclectic mixtape that combines indie-pop, classic R&B, hip-hop and countless other sounds.
The British artist’s patchwork of dream pop, rap, soul and street sounds found its inception in the notion that “an album is a statement, but a mixtape is more like a mood or a series of moods”. Musical moments flow into each other or break off at unexpected points – it’s easy to feel a bit lost during the first listen through, with such an eclectic collection of songs. In the end, it’s quite loyal to the idea of a scrapbook: open at your own risk – sometimes, pages will rip, chips of paint, dust or withered flowers will fall into your lap, and it’s up to you to make any sense (or not) of what you’re hearing.
This mixtape is as much a sandbox for Hynes’ wild imagination, as it is a place to recollect upon his nomadic lifestyle: the 14 songs were written between Berlin, Florence, L.A, Helsinki in Dubai. Travel might be a central theme, expressed through the music and its narrative structure, but there are many collaborations as well: Toro Y Moi lends his voice to Dark & Handsome, a wurli + autotune R&B jam, then Kelsey Lu and Ian Isiah deliver a gut-wrenching duo performance on Birmingham.
Justine Sky, Tinashé and even Aaron Maine (from the synth pop band Porches). Angel’s Pulse could have been a tour of a painter’s studio – a glimpse into their creation process, where ideas, drafts and completed works collide.
In that sense it might make more sense to consider the mixtape in the scope of Devonte’s latest album, Negro Swan – how it might have been made, what influences were drawn upon, and what Hynes himself wanted to do. As he said himself, "There’s freedom in [mixtapes] because there aren’t as many expectations of formality.” His constructive approach certainly yields results – like a Monet painting, you just have to take a step back to appreciate the whole.
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