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In Review: Steven Julien - BLOODLINE

Label: Apron Recordings

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Highly Recommended 

Steven Julien’s Bloodline takes its name in reference to his family’s musical influence growing up as well as tracing his ‘bloodline’ more deeply through to rhythmic aspects of African and Caribbean cultures. As a consequence of focussing conceptually on his identity as opposed to genre, Bloodline offers a diverse canon of sounds with affections of Jazz, Acid, Detroit Techno, Chicago House and Ambient. The coherence of what is a stylistically diverse record finds its integrity in Julien’s family history and DNA - the outcome of which is a record that is unique to him.

Another focal identity infused into Bloodline is Ikutaro Kakehashi - the founder of Roland - the electronic music leviathan that has shaped popular music and the sounds we affiliate with so many significant musical moments. Roland's most eponymous creation is, of course, the Roland-808 (which has been featured on more hits that any other drum machine). Its DNA can be felt within the music both structurally and conceptually, imbued with the nostalgia, reverence and mythos that has made it so enduring. Julien describes Bloodline as also being a tribute to Kakehashi who passed away in 2017. 

By having these two identities run in thematic parallel to one another, it's as if a dialogue between Julien and Kakehashi is taking place. This is clearest in the title track ‘Bloodline’ and ‘Roll Of The Dice’ where a restricted palette makes Kakehashi’s drums and Julien’s programming the focal point. Overall, Bloodline offers an attentive and nuanced consideration of the importance that music plays in our personal and collective identities by delivering a record that feels open and experimental in its form and delivery. AG