Davidge, Slo Light

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 03.10.14 in Reviews

Slo Light

The Massive Attack collaborator’s fluent and coherent debut

For an artist with a subterranean profile who is releasing his debut album, Neil Davidge sounds awfully familiar. A long-term collaborator with Massive Attack, he produced their most commercially successful album to date, 1998′s Mezzanine, and became a de facto member of the band for its follow-up, 100th Window. He has also produced and collaborated with artists as various as Snoop Dogg, David Bowie and Damon Albarn, but it’s Massive’s sonic footprints that are all over Slo Light. Like those venerable Bristol trip-hoppers, its default mode is foreboding electro-noir that suddenly bursts into luminescent life as if somebody has thrown open shutters on a glorious day. New York singer Stephonik Youth’s lush, overwrought trill on the opening title track recalls Liz Fraser’s gossamer vocal gymnastics on Massive’s “Teardrop.” On “Gallant Foxes,” Cate Le Bon could be Nico surfing a thrumming motorik pulse. Davidge is an empathetic producer, providing a suitably melodramatic backdrop for ’60s chanteuse Sandie Shaw on techno torch song “Riot Pictures,” and a skeletal electro-symphony to complement former Strangelove singer Patrick Duff’s damaged croon on the closing “Hummingbird.” With so many voices, Slo Light could easily have become an unfocussed babble. It is to Davidge’s huge credit that it feels fluent and coherent throughout.