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White Noise: Airhead – Wait / South Congress

Monday, 19 March 2012

Airhead – Wait / South Congress

Label: R&S

Robert McAndrews, aka Airhead, hasn’t been around for too long, with a notable compilation release on last year’s IOTDXI and a few remixes, but with Wait / South Congress, his debut release on R&S, he’s sure to make a splash. Here he continues to hone his sound; coupling textured beats with warm analogue field and record sampling, and has succeeded in creating a dazzling and utterly unique set of songs that I’d highly recommend.


Any expectations based on R&S’ previous output should be shrugged off before listening, because these tracks owe just as much to the Californian Beats scene and even Post Rock as they do to UK dance music. If this doesn’t discourage you, then the tracks are more than worth a listen, with A-side Wait ranking easily amongst the best tunes released so far this year. The track announces itself uneasily with confused samples clouding the soundfield, almost as if the vocal and percussive samples used later in the track are warming up for the big show. The core of the track is an assimilation of Karen O samples from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s tunes, notably the famous Maps, and they are applied here with care and skill. A loping beat pattern is built out of drums that sound like pistons, letting out a warm hiss every so often. As the tune continues the listener is treated to some beautiful and intimate guitar strumming, climaxing in a transcendent melody that will sweep all but the most hardened away in its wake. It’s hard to describe just what makes this track so special; whether it’s the careful and detailed collage of samples, their spare implementation into an almost pop-like structure, or the gentle build to a satisfying crescendo, but there’s something emotive and warm about the tune, more than justifying its difference from R&S’ average releases.

South Congress

B-side South Congress uses similar tactics to a slightly colder effect without a vocal line, but remains an impressive piece, albeit slightly less substantial as a song. Again rich acoustic samples are manipulated to eke the most from their organic textures, so the muffled kicks and melancholy melody are more evocative than you might expect. Add to this a keen knack for ambient details and perfectly treated percussion and you’ve got a strong track, driven to a very Post Rock climax with roaring guitars that feels grand but worthwhile, never quite stepping into over-the-top territory. Both tracks here are intriguing and unique, the A-side proving one to particularly cherish,  and if you’re looking for something a little different and a great deal softer than your average Electronic fare, you can’t go wrong here.


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