REVIEW: Gang Colours – The Keychain Collection

With a signing from Gilles Peterson and backing from now label mate Ghostpoet himself, Southampton’s Will Ozanne, AKA Gang Colours, sure has a burgeoning future ahead of him. With an acclaimed EP already under his belt, this debut LP is Ozanne‘s chance to prove himself as an exciting and talented electronic music producer.

First of all, just to get it out of the way; yes, he does share a large amount of similarities with James Blake. But is that really a bad thing? The comparisons are unavoidable while writing a review of this album, but even though he creates similar music, there is always room for expansion of the genre. While the vocals and production might be similar, there’s enough here to set the two apart.

The Keychain Collection is an album of delicately produced electronic music, accompanied by piano and soft, whispery vocals by Ozanne. While the music may appear to be simple initially, there are many intricate details that become apparent on repeated plays. The crisp production quality assists in showing the music’s layers; every little blip and key is on full display.

The docile nature of the music might be a step away from what was promised on the 2011 EP, In Your Gut Like a Knife, but the progression feels quite natural for Gang Colours. The album evokes memories of relaxed Sunday afternoons, while the slow jams and down-tempo melodies have a sensuous, soothing quality to them. There are tracks on here that hark back to the EP a little bit, such as ‘Botley In Bloom‘, which has a decidedly more up-beat pace to the rest of the album. The sporadic synths punctuate this higher tempo with some much needed urgency that’s hard to find elsewhere on the album.

Gorgeous breakout single ‘Fancy Restaurant‘ employs a simple refrain from Ozanne (‘I know you don’t care that much about money / but I’m going to make some and take you out‘) that repeats throughout, building atmosphere all the time. There’s an endearing quality to the vocals that really helps carry the song, while fragile piano keys and warm synths hypnotise. Most of the ten tracks on the album take this approach, layering simple lyrics, filled with romance and love, over lush piano arrangements and static hazes.

The album rolls to a close in just over 30 minutes, and it all feels over too quickly. Especially considering that a few of the tracks just don’t match the calibre of the standout songs. Take album closer, ‘Rollo’s Ivory Tale‘, for instance. It all seems like a bit of an uneventful way to close out this package, with aimless piano notes meandering with random synth bleeps, just to simply trail off in the end. But this is just a small blemish on the album; the track is still pleasant to listen to, there should just be more to it.

With The Keychain Collection, Gang Colours has compiled an impressive collection of songs that flow together like a gentle river. Not since Rustie’s Glass Swords has a debut electronic album impressed me as much as this, but this is a totally different area altogether. The chilled out vibes that exude from The Keychain Collection allure repeated listens, while the impeccable instrumentation and warm vocals counteract most of the shortcomings that the album possesses.



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