By: Jack Stein
Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? London producer Airhead’s head-spinning debut single “Wait” slyly functions like an aural installation in that classic children’s series. Your first path, the one that many salivating music nerds and bloggers (I’m raising my hand) will likely embark on, is a stroll down 2000’s Indie Nostalgia Road. Is that Karen O’s voice I hear (“wait…” from the chorus to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ career highlight), pitch-shifted and garbled to near-anonymity? Are those the menacing, metronomic guitars ripped straight from Battles’ “Atlas”? There are likely countless other samples present that this writer is too tone-deaf to hear, but “Wait” can already function as a Pitchfork Best-Of roll call…that is, if you allow it to.
There’s also the second, and more ultimately rewarding, fork in the road. Instead of playing the catch-the-sample game, just sit back and let this gorgeously minimalistic thing wash over you. The most obvious artistic reference is label mate and spiritual forebear James Blake, particularly when the amalgam of whirring electronics and ghostly beats simmers down to near-silence. As with Blake or even The xx, the most rewarding moments of this quietly self-aware type of music are those in which the sonic layers peel back to leave the listener pondering the starkly empty space, exposing the beating heart underneath those trendy samples. The space becomes a kind of noise itself. Let’s hope this upcoming producer has a few more of these in the works.