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.