Barbarossa, the nom de plume of Londoner James Mathe, follows up his 2013 album 'Bloodlines' with 'Imager' on memphis industries. 'Imager' is a cerebral, slow-burning album, tinged with melancholy and an alluring humanism. Mathe's musical journey started with folk-tinged balladry that saw him become part Fence collective, and subsequently a band member for the likes of Jose Gonzalez, Johnny Flynn and Junip. With 'Bloodlines', however, Mathe started to infuse his song writing with electronic flourishes, and now with 'Imager', he has completed his transformation into a fully fledged electronic soul pioneer.
Working with co-producer Ash Workman (Metronomy, Summer Camp) Mathe builds on the foundations provided by his organic approach to song writing, to build elegiac electronic anthems that are filled with a simple, poignant immediacy. 'Imager' is pervaded with a sense of disquiet, perhaps driven subconsciously by the fact that the spaces where creativity and culture flourish in london are rapidly disappearing; that the artistic communities that Mathe grew up with are being driven out of London due to financial pressures, and as a result, something vital is being lost. yet while the album deals in displacement and heartbreak, a sense that everything is in flux, there are redemptive moments to stir the soul. 'Silent Island' is perhaps the best example of this. its melancholic refrain "this city holds no beauty for me", giving way to a blissful yet propulsive chorus that suggests creativity will always find a way.
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