Scottish-born Anna Meredith has been having a pretty great few years, having won various awards as a classical composer and for her recent electronic work. She’s played alongside the likes of These New Puritans and James Blake, and Jet Black Raider represents her second EP for Moshi Moshi.
Her background as a composer is evident throughout JBR; these tracks might not be played on strings and woodwind but they have a complexity and intricacy that is practically baroque. Opener ‘Unicron’ layers ever-escalating chromatic scales over whirling electronic arpeggios over dense, bassy dirges with almost mind-goggling intricacy. ‘Bubble Gun’ is more upbeat, incorporating a deceptively simple opening line, which is then gradually joined by an ever-increasing number of other loops; it kinda feels like you’re walking down a busy street, hearing various different conversations as you go. It’s in stark contrast to ‘Orlok’, an intense seven-minute opus which initially sounds like it could be the soundtrack to some bizarre post-modern Mozart biopic, before taking off into a madcap final minute of video-game bleeps and bloops.
This inherent musicality also underpins closing track ‘ALR’, the EP’s most unexpected and, for me, most enjoyable moment. After the previous three tracks, the last thing I expected was what sounds like a classical composer writing an early-90s dance track, let alone with a sugar-sweet female voice intoning 80s classic ‘A Little Respect’ over the top, but that’s exactly what I got. And it’s brilliant.
I’ve always been a bit hazy on where the line between ‘songwriter’ and ‘composer’ lies, and with that in mind this EP is an interesting listen. As a composer, Meredith’s music is evocative and multifaceted, lush and filmic – to just call them ‘songs’ would be doing her a disservice. But I can’t get away from the fact that, for me, the most exciting bit of the whole EP comes courtesy of an Erasure song – a little something to make it sweeter