Until The Ribbon Breaks | A Lesson Unlearnt | Rating: 8.5/11 | Photo Credit: Debi del Grande |
Welshman Pete Lawrie-Winfield had a dream: one of sonic nods to cinema and noir, to beats and the bedroom, and to satisfaction via less re-imagination (remixing/producing the works of others) and more personal creation. With mates Elliot Wall and James Gordon, on A Lesson Unlearnt the nods shimmer and brood while weaving their electronic connection through darkly sensual scenes punched up and punctuated by hip hop at its most elegant. Considering that their creative process often revolved around film footage bouncing off of walls, should it feel as if you’re watching music and listening to a film, then A Lesson UnLearnt has done its job.
Last year the deep, lustful and urbane want of their single, “A Taste of Silver,” was Until The Ribbon Breaks telegraphing only a fraction of their collection of punches as A Lesson Unlearnt runs a pulse deeper than most electronic-based music and against its often icy and aloof grain, particularly when altered vocals are prevalent throughout as they are here. Instead, there’s a wealth of – as previously mentioned – connection as the trio not-so-simply yet effectively fuses rock, funk, soul, hip hop and electro pop into intricate exhibitions of sexy time dashed with social awareness. Winfield’s tempered flow of “We’re just a silhouette / Just some hired hands / If money talks, I don’t understand” in “Revolution Indifference” is the band in barely-concealed attack mode and getting an assist from Killer Mike and El-P of Run The Jewels pushes its excellence closer to brilliance. As bare and sparse an opener as “The Other Ones” is, the subsequent scenes take on qualities of lush and moody sophistication which, while powered by machinery, feel richly human and vulnerable. Compare Winfield’s mid-hush delivery on “Persia” which senses like a physical caress to the cerebral and clever treatment given to “Perspective” with a James Brown sample and Homeboy Sandman’s earthy verse of knowledge over its delicious skittering beat. So much union and commonality are urged and you feel it despite the contrasting dialogue.
Speaking of “Perspective,” did Winfield just glibly champion free music, dropping “Welcome to the Pirate Bay / All free, no catch”? Debatable. But what is not debatable is the fact that in embracing an array of genres to capture and direct the moods and moments, Until The Ribbon Breaks carves out a musical film that’s sophisticated, soulful and funkily blissed-out terrain that’s cohesive, coherent and complimentary unto itself. More so than most debuts.
RIYL: James Blake, How To Dress Well, Phantogram
Essential Tracks: “Perspective,” “Revolution Indifference,” “Persia,” “Until The Ribbon Breaks”