Album Review: gang colours the keychain collection

28 May 2012 | 11:55 am | Rick Bryant

Still, it’s a modest flaw, and The Keychain Collection could prove to be one of the year’s more welcome surprises.

Of late, a clutch of records released by downbeat, minimalist electronic artists has been making erudite music listeners take notice. These albums are crafted with great diligence, and the spaces between notes are arranged with as much care as the sounds themselves. Gang Colours, the nom de plume of young Briton Will Ozanne, has made a strong contribution to the cause with his debut, The Keychain Collection, which draws some parallels with James Blake but is a more musically intriguing affair.

Though Ozanne's vocals are undeniably strong, they're rarely presented as anything more than melodic features of already very textural arrangements. Opener, Heavy Petting, for instance, samples unintelligible vocals over broken beats, while Forgive Me? introduces the first of many memorable piano lines. There are hints of Four Tet throughout The Keychain Collection but where this differs noticeably is in Ozanne's readiness to drop everything so that only an electronic blip or piano note remains – his sense of timing is impeccable. Fancy Restaurant is about the only track that features clear, obvious vocals, and its positivity is almost at odds with the rest of the album. Two vocal lines are repeated throughout, dropping in and out but never stealing thunder from the music that surrounds them, and you get the impression that a voice-heavy album would never sit comfortably with Ozanne.

The only real weakness here is that, at times, the album passes almost too effortlessly and doesn't ask quite enough of the listener. Still, it's a modest flaw, and The Keychain Collection could prove to be one of the year's more welcome surprises.