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Blondes – Wine/Water review

When esteemed New York label RVNG Intl revealed they had added Brooklyn duo Blondes to their roster back at the turn of the year, a collective licking of figurative lips occurred across the globe. The promise Zach Steinman and Sam Haar had shown on their debut album, the Merok released Touched, was going to be explored in typically unique fashion for RVNG with a series of twelves based around themes of duality.

As we draw ever nearer to the close of the year, label and artists present the final chapter of this trilogy of releases in the shape of Wine/Water. For this writer, Blondes’ first episode in the series, the all encompassing Lover/Hater, has remained one of this year’s most enduring releases – not least the intoxicating “Lover” whose crafty usage of a Meredith Monk sample echoed the duo’s previous standout track “You Mean So Much To Me” but demonstrated a maturity and freedom of expression in production that was thrilling.  Whilst no less accomplished, Business/Pleasure seemed like the slightly unassuming mid section to a story which lulls you into a false sense of security before being hit with the magnificence of the final act.

It’s a sensation that plays out with aplomb here, as the opening track “Wine” unfolds immaculately into an expansive array of textures and sounds. Again it’s the usage of vocals amidst the trademark Blondes sonic hypnosis that lifts this track into the upper echelons of their canon to date, with stretched out intonations dissipating rhythmically, panning across the channels and grasping to the track’s thick, widescreen rhythmic qualities. As with all Blondes productions, there’s a sense of welcome infinity to “Wine” that totally captivates. The decision to base the accompanying video on the art of gloving (aka treating clubbers under the influence to a display of flashing light embellished gloves) seems wholly appropriate as the track filters out.

“Water” begins in subtler fashion, creeping from the silence with typically aquatic textures gradually forming around the gently oscillating bass line and fizzing, staccato percussive touches. The arrival of chiming synth patterns seemingly marks the onset of an increase in energy and change in mood as the rhythmic elements come to the fore, increasing the yearning to be experiencing this not at a desk, but in a dimly lit basement space with barely decipherable faces for company. Such a feeling clearly makes this a triumphant finale to what’s been one of 2011’s most beguiling stories, and an intriguing precursor to what might follow in the next twelve months with rumours of some monolithic remix commissions just the cusp of what RVNG Intl have planned with Blondes.

Tony Poland