Music Review | posted 10.03.2014
Neneh Cherry
Blank Project
Smalltown Supersound, 2014
Text Jens Pacholsky , Translation Julia Frohn
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8.4
Editorial
Cover Neneh Cherry - Blank Project

How many comebacks of late were still wearing the same old wigs, still had the same old make-up in their faces? Not even to mention their musical spectrum…?! Neneh Cherry could have chosen the easy way, could have delivered a dance-smasher like »Buffalo Stance«, for example, or a multicultural pop-hit like »7 Seconds«. She could have thrown it right in front of her old fans’ feet, who’ve awaited her comeback, rubbing their hands together in nostalgic awe. Instead, she has chosen the rather uncomfortable path and has done what distinguishes great and serious artists from the others: She’s tested her borders and then crossed them. In 2012, after having taken a time-out of 16 years, she got together with the Swedish free-jazzers The Thing and recorded an album, which was immediately remixed by legends like Jim O’Rourke, Merzbow and Four Tet. For her latest – and after 18 years her first – solo record by the name of »Blank Project«, she has managed to recruit Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) as her producer and has lured the brothers Page alias Rocketnumbernine as a mini-combo into her studio. Even the opener »Across The Water« makes crystal clear that Neneh Cherry hasn’t come back to chum up with the audience. The track consists of nothing more than minimalistic percussion and Cherry’s vocals. It’s almost as if the musician from Sweden is trying to return to the very roots of music history; she’s going for a complete re-start, especially when it comes to her music. »Blank Project« is quite modest, in general. Drums, tone woods, cow-bells, tambourines and synthesizers; the basis of all the tracks being the reduced groove-synthesizer couplings by Rocketnumbernine. Neneh Cherry talks, sings, wails and ponders above it all, thinking of love-hate-relationships, medical checkups, crack whores and sensory perception. Four Tet keeps it all together as a live-session. Everything sounds as if it’s just been recorded, like it’s not quite done, somewhat edgy. In most cases, Rocketnumbernine enters off-rhythm – sometimes it makes the record sound a little amateurish, but then again it makes it appear unpolished and therefore personal and direct. One thing is obvious: For Neneh Cherry, »Blank Project« is much more than a simple comeback. It’s about soul, and she deserves our credit for it.

You can find »Blank Project« by Neneh Cherry at hhv.de on LP+CD.
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