- Black Pearl, the first full album by Berlin DJ-producer Bloody Mary, is experimental in the best sense: it sounds like she's feeling her way through her ideas as she comes up with them, yet it's free of frippery. It's minimalist because each track works its way through—and making the most of—a handful of elements without leaning too hard on any one. It's melodic in a way that's more hard-nosed than twinkling, which doesn't stop it from being frequently ravishing.
Most of these tracks take their time to build in a way that seems less like standard 12-inch serviceability (however long and noble a tradition that may be) than a collected, centered gathering of momentum. "Black Pearl," the leadoff, is a perfect example: a see-sawing, floating, pitch-dark bass pattern with static percussion layers that cohere almost imperceptibly into a roughly driving house groove: one minute you're hearing an idea, the next you can't stop moving along, and the glacial string pads that ease their way in give it an eerie calm. "Sed Non Satiata," which features Argenis Brito on spoken vocal, follows it with an even heavier and more playful Latin-flavored percussion workout. This sounds complete in itself, but after three-and-a-half minutes Bloody Mary throws in a quick, floating keyboard pattern that brightens everything without sacrificing the track's elemental power.
Black Pearl was heavily inspired by Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal ("The Flowers of Evil"), and the French poet's famed decadence is captured nicely by the album's vaguely musty undertone. "Moestra Et Errabunda" throws its bounding beat against a slurping central sample that evokes everything from bat wings flapping against chimney walls to wayward substances imbibed in dank basements. It won't be surprising if this album crosses over to discerning darkwavers, especially if they catch the creepy-crawly "Interlude," inserted before a pair of lovely remixes, by Sascha Funke and Jay Haze, of the title track. Equally, it's not surprising that Haze's Contexterrior label, after seven years of 12-inches, chose this as its first full album. There won't be many more assured debuts this year.
01. Black Pearl
02. Sed Non Satiata feat. Argenis Brito
04. Moesta Et Errabunda
05. Semper Eadem feat. Danton Eeprom
09. A Une Passante
10. Elevation feat. Jona
12. Black Pearl (Sascha Funke remix)
13. Black Pearl (Jay Haze rework)