U.K. artist Dean Blunt headlined new Brooklyn venue Market Hotel last night, supported by opening acts Dedekind Cut (formerly known as Lee Bannon) and Bookworms featuring Via App. Blunt boasts a dense, eclectic discography of heady bedroom beats, lo-fi hip-hop, trap, shoegaze, and experimental dance music, and he oscillated between each during his set.
The performance began with a looped vocal sample (“The white man, I say to you over and over again”), which endured for several minutes, made longer by the approaching fog machine haze. It filled the room, worsening the heat and humidity, until it obscured all but a few yards of pale grey vision. The effect was alienating, at first. Blunt’s lyrics are highly personal—he’s been known to cry openly during simple, spotlight-directed sets—so the fog might aim to serve as a kind of emotional distancing. But it also seemed to have an immediate effect on the audience, how they gauged the space around them, how they listened. In a very indirect way, the fog made Dean Blunt’s performance more intimate, almost private.
Blunt played guitar tunes and dub tracks from his 2014 Black Metal LP (“50 Cent,” “100,” “Mersh,”), and several songs from The Redeemer released a year earlier, among new, dance-oriented joints. His physical energy, even when only illuminated as a silhouette in the haze, was considerable. At his most exposed, Dean Blunt sounds like a slizzard young Gil Scott Heron, impelled by dark and disturbing themes. But his versatility, his need for constant change, is ultimately what makes him a phenomenal artist.
UPDATE: Stream Dean Blunt’s Market Hotel set in full via Sex Magazine.
Stream Dean Blunt’s Skin Fade LP, which picks up with that fantastic/awful “white man” sample, below.