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Blockhead brings his broken beat nostalgia back to Belmont tonight

Born-and-bred Manhattanite Tony Simon, better known by his artist moniker Blockhead, has put in the time – and his textured, refreshingly abstract and oft-instrumental beat work only reaffirms the fact. A gifted beatmaker who aspired to rap before finding his groove amongst samplers and sequencers, he is perhaps best known for collaborating with Def Jux rapper Aesop Rock (for whom he produced his very first instrumental cut, "Forest Crunk"), as well as working with rappers such as Murs, Hangar 18 and Cage.

Weaned on the classic rap of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s (artists such as The Bomb Squad, Diamond D and Prince Paul), Simon looked up to guys adept at layering samples in unexpected ways. Besides building smooth beat blocks as rappers' creative canvases, Simon was led down the instrumental path completely by fluke, when he was asked to make a breakbeat record (to which he replied something along the lines of, “what’s that?”). In fact, the mellow beatsmith – a tried-and-true old soul and hip hop head – has often confessed to rarely listening to instrumental fare, which makes his atmospheric, sample-based structures all the more impressive.

His fifth full-length, Interludes After Midnight, for esteemed electronic imprint Ninja Tune, offers a savoury session of introspective and emotional beat concoctions that don’t shy away from youthful nostalgia. The entire affair is a tribute of sorts to a bawdy late-night show on New York public access TV in the ‘80s and ‘90s that gave a very precocious, pre-teen Blockhead his first glimpse at the birds and the bees – gone wild. (Read this hilarious Village Voice Q&A for more.) Besides revisiting his days as an impressionable, wide-eyed youth, the album also includes nods to NYC’s iconic subway system (“Never Forget Your Token”) and the unbridled passions of crate digging (“Meet You at Tower Records”), among others. Whether you consider him to be retro or futuristic, you’ll agree this is what the post-DJ Shadow/Amon Tobin age should sound like.

Blockhead
November 17 | Le Belmont
4483 St. Laurent
with DJ Brace, Construct and Ghostbeard
ninjatune.net/artist/blockhead