Neneh Cherry - Blank Project

A record determined to look ahead.

Label: Smalltown Supersound

Rating:

Produced by Four Tet, performed by Ben and Tom Page (aka Rocketnumbernine), featuring Robyn. That Neneh Cherry doesn’t end up drowning in a sea of big names on returning gambit ‘Blank Project’ is a minor miracle. Seeing past the star cast, this record marks a move back into the spotlight after ten-plus years of silence. Neneh’s past is important, here, but it’s not a vital fixture in a record determined to look ahead.

‘Blank Project’ skews soul into a futuristic chasm of industrial noise and convention-dodging electronica. Several tracks skitter and let loose; ‘Weightless’ especially, which lives up to its title by taking cheesy dance motifs and adding thumping bass to a future-gazing aesthetic. Not one moment on this album sounds at ease.

The Robyn-featuring ‘Out of the Black’ lives up to its billing with a snappy, strutting take on brattish pop, but it’s all played out in front of an eerie backdrop. ‘422’ talks about being “scared and off our heads” like a night-wanderer without a cause. Only, on ‘Blank Project’, Neneh Cherry’s never been more aware of her intentions. The glue between ten ambitious tracks, she holds her own and sounds more relevant than ever. Cue the cynics, this always looked like a record capable of playing the big sell without giving its dues. That’s not the case here.