Review: Black Square – Beggars Opera (Blind Colour)

Black Square’s ‘Beggars Opera’ is euphonically distinct.

Since his emergence, Black Square has presented a diverse catalogue of work. Despite having only released 14 songs, he has proved to be a creative craftsman, carving majestic sculptures of electronic decadence. He returns in 2020 with an equally alluring album ‘Beggars Opera’, Black Square’s debut release with Blind Colour, a UK based independent label with a multitude of songs to satiate all of your downtempo desires. Black Square’s work is indelibly dynamic, kitted out in a textural ecstasy. 

Stream ‘Beggars Opera’ here:

The album opens with ‘The Hope and Crutch’, a cinematic journey of euphoria. The quietly captivating orchestral elements evoke a sensation of weightlessness, whilst maintaining intensity through the use of breathy vocals that submerge the listener into an expansive world intertwined in melancholy and serenity.

‘Broken Palace’ is equally evocative, with melodies from Se.V.en oozing a sleepy sensuality, a song with expertly arranged intricate drum patterns. Black Square envisions sound as art, a suprematist homage that imagines life through absurdism, creating an illusion of irrational space. Here, sound design serves a purpose of composing a new and archetypal contemporary style expressing the dynamism of modern existence.

Summoning the expressive vocals of Laville on the third track, ‘Coral Blues’ (with remixes from Phaeleh and Throwing Snow), it is obvious why this Acid Jazz Records artist has made such an imprint. The palpable tension of the lyrics laid on a bed of relaxed jungle-style percussion is a delightful blend – much like a tropical smoothie. Nevertheless, this song has an underlying dark tone, with Black Square’s moody notes and brazenly defiant beats.

Aquatic reverie would indeed be the most appropriate way to describe the next song, ‘Fall’, which features the London-based singer and producer, Hezen. The ambitious exploration of the atmospheric spaces between electronica and classical empowers a groove that’s reflective and fractured. Gritty noise textures fit like puzzle-pieces beneath Hezen’s siren-like crooning whilst the rhythm shuffles into infinity.

If life was a movie, this song should be the end credits. ‘Weapon’ opens with a sombre synth pulsating at a glacial pace. This symphonic space opera echoes with dulcet windchimes drifting in a celestial soundscape uniting with the trigger-like snare and engulfing kicks that pulse like a heartbeat. ‘13110’ continues this interstellar narrative, the glitching drums and exotic trance-inducing synths dance like a martian samba, following this – ‘+3 3 (Lucid Interval)’, another other-worldly affair. Black Square envisions a bizarre extraterrestrial planet, with arpeggiating analogue dial sounds and momentary bursts of eerie theremin signals. 

For those searching for a Tarantino experience, look no further, with the guitar licks reminiscent of Miserlou, ‘Beyond Your Reach’ will have you envisioning 80’s mobsters. Louise Wellby is audacious and effortlessly cool, simultaneously singing like a rockstar and a soulful prima donna. Equally vibrant is ‘Shuteye’ featuring the impassioned Graziella, it’s boisterous breakbeat is embellished by a dusty crate quality creating an ideal club anthem, it is easily paired with the penultimate track ‘Zeus’. This track ends on a chaotic crescendo, featuring tribal drums and rumbling sub bass amidst the euphony of rippling liquid-like accents. 

‘Beggars Opera’ ends on ‘Hymnz’, commencing with a jazzy piano loop. It is minimal yet seductive as it moves through and evolves with the rhythmic ebbs and flows. In summary, Black Square’s new album is deliciously eclectic.

Beggars Opera is available now via Blind Colour and is available to buy and stream on all platforms

Words: Aine Gradisher

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