Brownswood Recordings is proud to present the stunning debut album from their latest signing, Gang Colours aka Will Ozanne.
It was Ghostpoet, newly signed to Brownswood in March of 2010, who brought the music of Gang Colours to the labels attention, requesting a remix of his debut single Cash & Carry Me Home from the young, Southampton-based producer. His MySpace page was a jumble of off-kilter house cuts and slower, introspective, syncopated ditties thick with darting synths and hummable melodies which really resonated with us. As Gilles himself says: I guess we fell in love with Will's music gradually... he seduced us... but pretty soon we were head over heels. I think he's going to have the same effect on a lot of people.
Striking out in June 2011 with his debut EP In Your Gut Like A Knife a neat summary of his electronic excursions at that point the beautifully artworked 12 acted as a portal into a world of daydreams, tumbling into shadows and embracing luminescence simultaneously. Breeding surreal headphone-friendly landscapes, he struck a peculiar and delicate balance between otherworldly and familiarity, at times sneaking a sly glance towards the dance floor but mostly conjuring a sense of longing and rye melancholy. Ticking with a distinctive bounce and rhythm, it comes as no surprise that Gang Colours was raised on the bump and grind of UKG. But the fact that the 24 year old counts Laurie Anderson ( It s kind of minimal, experimental and heavy on the spoken word. The production is amazing. ) and Basquiat as well as hometown heroes the Artful Dodger among his influences, it's clear that he is coming from a different perspective altogether.
Garage had a dance element and it had the emotion, the evocative side. And that ticked my boxes. But the groove of garage, and the tempo those are characteristics that were really inspiring. The Streets Original Pirate Material just that track alone, especially the use of piano, really inspired me to make something different that could have a profound impact on someone.
Taking a step back from chopped n screwed RnB vocals and the swing of UKG, The Keychain Collection explores more sombre recesses within Gang Colours palette. The scattered Technicolor synth melodies that characterised his EP are present, but softer... cosier even... weaving betwixt and between forthright piano chords and Will s own vocals.
Aligning the symbolism of his childhood keychain collection as doorways to distant memories, leagues of meaning hide in the simplicity of the song titles assembled on his debut album. Tissues and fivers are two of the interesting items that my Nan s black labrador used to eat and Rollo [ Rollo s Ivory Tale ] is my grandad s middle name. I recorded this track on his childhood piano. Ten tracks deep then, The Keychain Collection eloquently captures Gang Colours first steps on a long road. We re looking forward to sharing the journey.
Contrary to some beliefs, so-called classic debut albums are rarely celebrated for being remarkably cohesive. Rather, it’s standout stretches that commonly characterise the vast majority of successful breakthroughs – from the Arctics to Oasis and so very far beyond, lasting long-play favourites are elevated to five-star status courtesy of stunning passages. Will Ozanne’s debut as Gang Colours is a fantastic set of smouldering potential realised in vivid detail – but, like so many collections before it, it’s more about moments than momentum.
These 10 tracks fit together tightly, and with no single number lasting beyond four-and-a-half minutes The Keychain Collection lends itself well to single-sitting listens. But even if every detail of its elegantly understated arrangements can be processed in a commute, it’s a select few which shine brightly enough to cast long shadows across the less-inspired (though no less beautiful) instances of stark piano keys, hazy atmospheres and plaintive vocals. Lead single Fancy Restaurant houses one such beacon: a simple, gorgeous lyrical refrain which says so much more in two lines than a thousand love songs. “I know you don’t care that much about money,” says Ozanne, half-sung, half-spoken in a James Blake-recalling style; “But I’m going to make some and take you out.” The repetition of the line almost makes it throw-away; but the sentiment of going that extra yard is so very perfect that one can’t not be touched. It’s a magical track which sets the agenda for much of The Keychain Collection: lovelorn chords and heartbroken hooks, wrapped up in a high-quality mix which keeps its spaced beats sharp and affecting keys chiming.
Those familiar with Ozanne’s twitchy EP of 2010, In Your Gut Like a Knife, might be surprised by the subdued nature of much of The Keychain Collection; but it’s a progression with precedent, following the aforementioned Blake’s development from dubstep star-in-the-making to singer-songwriter sort short of a bassline or two. In some respects this set is the perfect substitute for those disappointed with Blake’s Mercury Prize-nominated eponymous LP: Ozanne hasn’t wholly abandoned his livelier side, infusing Botley in Bloom and Forgive Me? with pockets of bubbling low-end. The stillness between sounds seems more loaded, too, as an air of drama permeates proceedings. This is readily noticeable in To Repel Ghosts and Tissues & Fivers, where unease turns Ozanne’s tender pieces into half-seen half-steps.
Gang colours are traditionally bold – after all, one can’t go around mistaking their own people for turf-war rivals when an emphasis is on acting first, questions later. But the music made under this could-be-confrontational moniker is striking in its economy, its language refined and concise. It does enough to cast a spell on the listener throughout; but, when it strikes seams of gold, jaws hit floors. Not dancefloors, granted – but Ozanne has here delivered one of the most perfect after-party collections in recent memory, and one which is likely to soundtrack quiet hours of solitude for the foreseeable.
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window