Dean Blunt and Joanne RobertsonTextile
Wahalla - Monorail Exclusive with Numbered Print
Released: 8th December 2017
Limited to 500, Vinyl-only, one-pressing. With Monorail-exclusive, Numbered print.
The most fulfilling, heart-rending set of songs produced by this mercurial pairing, recorded at the same time as Dean Blunt's Black Metal album.
Glasgow resident Joanne Robertson’s path seems to cross that of Dean Blunt regularly these days, with Robertson collaborating on Blunt’s Rough Trade album Black Metal, as well as several other samplings and recording projects. The duo’s first full-length collaboration is Wahalla, criminally only previously available as a YouTube video, which has now been pressed by Parisian label Textile. Unlike some of the other back catalogue of either artist, Wahalla is most striking for it its earnestness and honesty, heavily guitar orientated and song-based. The majority of the album is dominated by vocals: Robertson’s melancholy, aching croon that swoops and sweeps with a naive virtuosity and Blunt’s baritone, outsider-doomed croak, forever cornered and boxing.
Aural or artistic obliqueness is in short supply here: instead we’re treated to some sublime guitar work, arpeggios cascading from heavy chords, subtle organ and keyboard flourishes: Wahalla is most redolent of two artists in the early hours of the morning with a four track recorder documenting the trials and tribulations of an emotional life lived hard. The vocal pairing is near classic: effortlessly, bird-like singing from Robertson and a fulfilling, almost naked vocal performance from her male counterpart. X marks the beginning of the album, with a Fender Rhodes slow dancing around a minor key, Joanne lamenting through the haze. Track 2, Pusher, is a sparkling acoustic guitar ballad decorated with an intimate sounding electric guitar and, most poignantly, powered by Robertson’s multi-tracked vocal, it could be the prettiest thing you’ll hear all year, sounding like a Joni Mitchell track rendered by Cat Power. Mass Appeal opens with a distorted guitar and Dean Blunt’s line “I am still a lover of unholy girls,” which sets the tone for a classic lone ranger rager. Robertson’s voice sounds lost at sea on Viper, with waves of juddering acoustic guitars crashing against her voice. Perhaps the album’s centrepiece, Had My Guard Up 2 U (Since ’92), is incredible. With a full band this time, a mellotron sweeps across a mid-tempo drum pattern, creating a swooning atmosphere for some truly lush violins to take flight. Album closer Fuckboy Anthem is the album’s nod to Blunt’s background in electronic music production, with a drum machine holding down, perhaps, a doomed tale of romantic misadventure.. it’s the sound of the four track recorder malfunctioning, a minimalist pop song that strikes the heart hard.