With the dust from the summer now settled, it’s time for us to reflect and listen to some of the releases that were the most important. Citizenn’s debut album on Crosstown Rebels was one of these. Manifested through technology, the album is an exploratition of modernity and it’s relationship to human emotion.
Awarded the title of DJ Mag’s ‘Breakthrough DJ’ in 2013, Citizenn has won favour across multiple disciplines for his retro-futurist style. A film director in a former life, his affinity with working with technology led him to this first album, inspired by the direction it was taking humanity. This is why the album is very much visual and paints a picture in your head.
Starting his musical life as a drummer, Laurence Blake’s Citizenn alias didn’t come into play until after a successful career in video directing, working with the likes of Aluna George and Little Boots. “With film and the visual arts I was able to present impossible scenarios and environments, narrative-led or pop-culture heavy responses to subject matter. The music, which came later has allowed me to go one step further than I ever was able to with film.”
The title track cracks the album into a dystopian tone, before tracks like ‘Infatuation’, ‘Control’ and ‘Gone’ welcome in warmth with R&B-tinted smooth vocals, layered over textured beats that sit safe with artists such as Scuba and James Blake. As the record progresses, Citizenn’s recognisable sci-fi house synths and effortlessly approachable classic beats surface in first single, ‘Tied’, and tracks including ‘Lacefront’ and ‘Shutters’ take a bow to the ground-breaking sounds of the late eighties and early nineties.
Honest and rapid moments allude to a future vision in ‘Oh Bongdage’ and ‘You Are’ as the record edges forward to its conclusion, whilst vocal slices delivering subliminal messages are a constant throughout. “Aisha has one of the most amazing thinking minds I know. She and I came up with multiple scenarios and ways of expressing them through her vocal contributions. I also worked with a vocalist called Py, another great mind and voice who is instantly cinematic and can evoke so many different feelings with her tones.”