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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 21, 2017 | Bite Hard

Electronic/Dance - Released March 9, 2004 | Ninja Tune

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During the 2000s, Ninja Tune upheld its reputation for quality breakbeats, and, far from becoming complacent, continued breaking intriguing and varied new records, from Fog's Ether Teeth to Cinematic Orchestra's Every Day. Though Blockhead may be a new name for fans of the label, underground rap fans already know him well for providing the productions behind Aesop Rock's Labor Days as well as tracks from Definitive Jux partners Murs, S.A. Smash, and Party Fun Action Committee. His solo debut, Music by Cavelight, is a collection of comparatively understated, downtempo instrumentals which apparently function as Blockhead's bid for artistic prestige -- a claim he hardly needed to make before, thanks to his talented productions. These tracks are much smoother than the warped jams that fans of his hip-hop work know him for; most of the instrument sources on these tracks are not only recognizable, but hardly tampered with at all. The opener, "Hello Popartz," is pleasantly sleepy, despite the scratching of Omega One, and cements the already close ties between underground rap and progtronics heroes Boards of Canada (who had remixed cLOUDDEAD a few months earlier). Farther on, "Sunday Seance" reaffirms the BoC connections with an excellent production of organ chords spiraling downward to create a warm atmosphere. Still, without a deft rap to go over these tracks, many of them merely drift over the listener, reeking of trip-hop's early days when dozens of acts -- even a few Ninja Tune acts -- could impress listeners with merely an aimless piano melody and a sampled plunger-mute trumpet chained to a shuffling breakbeat. Ironic, then, that a few of the highlights come from the bonus second disc, which compiles five of Blockhead's previous productions for Aesop Rock tracks. ~ John Bush

Electronic/Dance - Released November 2, 2009 | Ninja Tune

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For now, let's leave aside the question of what makes instrumental hip-hop "hip-hop." (Samples? Breakbeats? A certain general texture or mood or variety of funkiness?) Instead of worrying about genre or categories, let's just focus on the quality of the music on Blockhead's third Ninja Tune release, which is close to jaw-dropping. It's not just the variety of source materials from which he draws, though that alone is pretty impressive: "It's Raining Clouds," the album's opening track, wanders from a cool downtempo mood to a sort of restrained drum'n'bass jitter by the end; "The Prettiest Sea Slug" swings indolently under an explicitly jazzy saxophone and piano; "Tricky Turtle" pairs an old-school funk vibe with splanky guitars, greasy horns, and a possibly African vocal sample; "Four Walls" critiques Auto-Tune abusers with a slow 6/8 groove and over the top vocoder effects. But the album's centerpiece is both more serious and more disturbing: titled "The Daily Routine," it features a laid-back and frankly quite pretty instrumental backing track over which are layered recordings of a drug-addicted couple having a screaming, profanity-laced argument. Everyone makes sample-based music these days, but very few people use found sounds and prefab musical snippets as creatively and thoughtfully as Blockhead does. Maybe he needs a new stage name. ~ Rick Anderson
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 7, 2019 | Backwoodz Studioz

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Electronic/Dance - Released October 14, 2005 | Ninja Tune

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3 stars out of 5 - "[C]urious, cubist music....Blockhead's music is a big, brash construction and you can see the joins."
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 4, 2017 | Backwoodz Studioz

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Electronic/Dance - Released April 30, 2012 | Ninja Tune

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 29, 2019 | Future Archive Recordings

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Dub - Released July 25, 2011 | BlockHead

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Electronic/Dance - Released April 9, 2015 | BlockHead

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Dub - Released July 25, 2011 | BlockHead

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Dance - Released April 9, 2015 | Block Chief

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Chill-out - Released September 14, 2018 | Future Archive Recordings

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World - Released August 26, 2009 | ChAoS LABEL

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Rock - Released June 25, 2008 | ChAoS LABEL

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Dance - Released April 9, 2015 | Block Chief

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Dub - Released July 25, 2011 | BlockHead

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 8, 2019 | Future Archive Recordings

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 4, 2019 | Future Archive Recordings

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released December 3, 2013 | Backwoodz Studioz