Barbarossa: Imager

review barbarossa x1 cong
After the piratical reference above we come to Barbarossa, which we think means red beard in foreign, me ‘arties.
It’s really James Mathe, purveyor of slow-burning electronica. Mathe has strayed from the folk that saw him become part of the Fence Collective (Kid Creosote, KT Tunstall et al), and a band member for the likes of José Gonzalez, Johnny Flynn and Junip (Gonzalez’s old band).
Imager opens in fine style with the title track, a melancholic but invasive track that creeps into your head; it’s a bit Junior Boys, a bit Ben Watt in deep house mode, and would not be out of place on one of Watt’s Buzzing Fly compilations. But after this it settles down to being a little less interesting, though it’s consistent: he hits a good average and stays there. Of the rest Nevada is good and Dark Hopes is nearly there, while Human Feel has a catchy hook.
Track two, Home, is not too bad, though it’s a bit cloying. It sounds like a slow electronic cover of a big pop hit, except of course without the original hit, so it’s just a little derivative. Solid Soul is a bit better, though it would benefit from tighter production and Gonzalez’s more soulful vocals (he does pop up on one song).
It’s a solid six out of 10, though if it had been to the level of Imager all the way through, that would be eight. Having said that: it’s nice background music, fading away for the more pedestrian tracks and ambling out (leaping is too forceful a word) for the better songs, so it’s perhaps something you’d play a lot. Maybe a seven.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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