Review Summary: Big Beat Trip Hop with strings attached? The man is called Deadly Avenger for god's sakes.
“A mysterious new priest, Father Daniel, comes to town to stay with fellow men of the cloth. Little do they know, he possesses extraordinary martial arts skill, crucifix blades
and a gun with a golden cross
on the handle.”
Or so says the back-of-the-DVD blurb from which Deadly Avenger (aka Damon Baxter) took his name from. Could the premise for music inspired by such wonders be
any cooler? Fun as it sounds though, it’d be misleading to say that Deadly’s music really is ‘inspired’ by B-grade kung-fu throwaway flicks - Instead, Deadly sits on a point somewhere along a long line Instrumental DJs, but pushing out his own brand of Big Beat Trip Hop and taking his inspiration from cinematic film scores a la Tarrantino and John Carpenter - you’d be likely to hear some of his tunes on C.S.I. and Top Gear of all places. Of course, Deadly also has his own DJ legacy outside the cinema, and after a residency at the world renowned rave palace Fabric and having released his own album in the form of the stunning Deep Red
, Deadly is back, and it can only be a good thing.
Opening with what could probably be termed as Deadly’s very own call to arms, "We Took Vegas" is a trumpet filled, string drenched affair, coming off as a sort of campy cross between early James Bond theme music and 80s Shaft inspired pomp – Deadly Avenger indeed. And of course, that
is the key to Blossoms & Blood
: through the sweeping string arrangements, deeply housed beats and flowing piano lines, there’s a distinct sense of just… playful fun that runs through the whole thing. Take "Mal Paso Pt. II", which opens with its sex-groove guitar licks and bedroom beats, only to have Deadly drop in some furious cowbell goodness right in and amongst the rising strings. Almost predictably too, closer "Exits" is the sort of ‘superspy walking off into the sunset after dispatching the baddie and getting the girl’ tune, complete with Austin Powers flutes and hard edged wahwah guitar solos. It’d almost be almost a bit comical, if it wasn’t for the seeming seriousness of these songs. But hell, fact is, it all works.
Still though, Deadly isn’t just a mere connoisseur of cool but knows when to apply the breaks as well, and peppered throughout Blossoms and Blood
are slower, more down tempo songs that drip with the melodic gorgeousness that characterizes a lot of the songs here. Songs like “Sequola” and “Blossoms and Blood” both feature grand, sweeping string arrangements, while “Suite From Near To Me” and “Midgets For Seven” brood with lightly strummed acoustic guitar and choral flourishes. To keep things interesting, you’ll even find breakbeat influences on “Chevy Chases Hair” and “Invincible” while “Gekko” shows off Deadly’s own House inspired electronic wrangling. What’s great about it all though, is that way that Deadly also has a way of tying these disparate influences in together in way that makes Blossoms & Blood
come off very solidly as an album
, and not just a collection of random snippets and tunes. If anything, it’s a record which bears all the marks of an A-class producer, even if sometimes the fun/beauty ratio does get toyed with a little bit too much.
I suspect though, that Baxter also probably already knows that he’s damn good - and sometimes too well for his own sake. Occasionally, songs here rely too heavily on their obvious hooks and first-glance beauty to get the job done, rather than any sort of deep, revealing and complex musicality. The singularly gorgeous title track here is a prime example of this, with its rousing strings and inspiring piano runs, it’s the sort of song you’re likely to hear in a movie where the protagonist finally has some sort of revelation of the spirit, running through the city streets to cry out his love to the girl he loved for so long but never had the balls to do it. Or something like that. Yes it’s nice, yes it’s pretty, but once it hits its climax, the song simply fades away, and theses a distinct sense of… oh. That was cool. And that’s it. Still, if you’re simply in for a three and a half minute heart warmer, there’s absolutely no reason to dock any points when the Deadly's ear for a tune is so damn sharp.
So really, what you’re getting here is basically an incredibly well polished, shiny-to-the-bone set of instrumental tunes, with little to get in the way of a chill session of listening. While Blossoms & Blood
doesn’t carry the dramatic tension of say, Blue Sky Black Death’s latest, it’s still a quick fix that’ll leave anyone on a chillaxed high and have you coming back to it time and time again.