- The 2012 documentary Detropia portrayed the city that gave the world some of its greatest soul music as having had its soul ripped out. Floating over images of barren parking lots in downtown Detroit was a haunting electronic score from Dial 81. Raised in Michigan, the producer was an apt choice for reasons beyond his birthplace. Detropia was also at times a romanticised vision of the city, and there was a misty-eyed tinge to Dial 81's music, which has become more pronounced now that he uses his given name. But Blair French isn't trying to find beauty in desolation any more. After he moved from Detroit's urban sprawl, he recorded Through The Blinds in a studio in rural Michigan.
The first Blair French track, "Before Mornings Arrival," appeared on John Beltran's Music For Machines compilation last year. Now Beltran's digital label, Dado Records, which is said to be "focused on the development of film- and television-friendly music," is co-releasing French's debut album. Through The Blinds is undoubtedly quiet music with the ambitions of a soundtrack. French clearly has a scene in mind for each track, and most sound like what their titles imply. "Star Dust" has a luminous tone that rises like the moon. The chimes of "Winter Frost" swirl around keening strings like plastic flakes in a snow globe. "Before Mornings Arrival" returns with its lonely electronic pulses, flickering before the sound of distant birdsong drifts in.
This is very much incidental music. The closest Through The Blinds comes to drama is the entrance of tremulous strings on the title track, or the processed voice sighing, "It doesn't look the same from here," on "Silver Ink And The Rotating Sun." Otherwise, the music sounds as if made from a palette of pale and blurry watercolours, and is sometimes too obsessed with prettiness. When French tries to smear touches of distortion into the end of "Last Of A Fading Memory," it only makes the track's central piano sound more celestial in contrast. As the album tiptoes towards its conclusion, it does indeed feel like glimpses "through the blinds"—enticing and intriguing in parts, yet unlikely to linger in the memory.
01. Star Dust
02. Window Frost
03. Moonrise Train
05. Before Mornings Arrival
07. Silver Ink And The Rotating Sun
08. Through The Blinds
09. Last Of A Fading Memory
10. No Receipt (Things You Can't Take Back)