Speakers or headphones? Body or mind? Though seemingly sworn enemies, the instrumental dance music made by Brooklyn house duo Blondes aims for both. This debut LP collects both sides of three 12" records, along with a newly recorded pair, each exploring some kind of duality (“Lover”/”Hater”, “Business”/”Pleasure”,etc.). “Wine” is opulent, where “Water” is restrained. “Gold” is svelte and kinetic, where “Amber” is crackly and ethereal (those titles don’t seem like actual opposites, but whatever). While the band’s previous work has been largely stamped “headphones,” this stuff works better in the open air, where precarious cord tangling is no impediment to body-moving.
The use of vocal textures in a couple of tracks is compelling. “Lover” uses a chanting Meredith Monk sample to ecstatic effect, while “Wine”’s depth-charge low-end is combined with digital ghost moans. The main points of interest are graceful analog synth lines, combining, recombining, stretching their legs for a dance. These tracks all contain a bit of sprawl (the shortest coming in at just under seven minutes). Counting a second full disc of heady remixes, this is a metric ton of music to process. Even the album proper, as a reconstituted whole rather than standalone duos, can get sort of exhausting. But for those looking to get more acquainted with house music, this is an accessible start. Not a bad crash course for the ravers, to borrow a Bowie phrase