D A N B L A C K ((un)) to be Released: February 2010

Seldom has an album twisted so thrillingly through so many styles, nor over-flowed with so much melody and feeling. Little wonder that Black is being tipped by the world’s critics and bloggers as one of 2010’s most promising break through artists. If his name already rings a bell, that’s perhaps because you’ve heard everyone from Zane Lowe to Perez Hilton raving about HYPNTZ, the Notorious BIG cover which first brought Black to the world’s attention when unsigned in 2008.

During this time, Black was mainly hunched over his laptop writing, tinkering, writing, recording and then writing some more. “I knew that unless I had great songs, it was all a bit pointless,” he says. “I think I wrote 70 songs in that time.” By his own admission, many of them were rubbish. But it quickly became clear that quite a few weren’t. Tracks like the shimmering, lysergic lullaby Life Slash Dreams, the wistful, New Order-esque WonderU + Me = began to spill out of him; sonically contrasting, but all driven by Black’s obvious knack for a catchy melody and a sharp, meaningful lyric. and the strident, big beat love song

In that spirit, he began to experiment with home-made mash-ups. “I’d try something like taking the drums from [Nelly Furtado’s] Maneater and mixing them with a Daft Punk hook before singing [The Smiths’] These Things Take Time over the top, just to see if they would/could work together. The initial idea was that these were private experiments that would teach me lessons that I could feed into my original songs. But some of those experiments turned out to have a weird power in and of themselves.”

The best example of that was HYPNTZ, which combined the drums from Rihanna’s Umbrella with sweeping strings from the soundtrack of John Carpenter’s Starman film, over which Black sang the rhymes from Notorious B.I.G.’s rap classic Hypnotize. “I’ve always been massively into B.I.G. So doing that track was very much motivated by love. He’s articulating a mindset that is pretty ugly, but those lyrics are the result of an extraordinary, strange, amazing mind. My version accidentally turned into a lament; the chorus is me asking how he managed to squander his talent. Obviously he didn’t mean to get killed, but it was such a stupid waste.”

In the spring of 2008, Black registered a MySpace account and uploaded his striking HYPNTZ track to the player. “I really didn’t expect it to get much attention.” Claims Black. But it quickly did. Within weeks the track was being raved about in print across the world and getting daytime airplay on Radio One. By the summer, A&M had snapped him up to a major deal.

And now we have ((un)), a pop record inspired as much by Black’s love for the “transcendent, emotional wonder” of acts like Nick Drake and Sigur Ros as it is fuelled by his passion for the hip hop production of J Dilla, Flying Lotus and Timbaland. Its songs flit seamlessly from throbbing electro to heart-tearing strings, and from plaintive acoustic guitar strums to shuddering hip hop beats.

“The best music makes the stuff start firing in your brain,” says Dan Black. “That’s what I always aimed for when I was writing these songs.” As the kaleidoscopic future-pop of ((un)) proves, he repeatedly hit his target.

Black is the man whose yearning voice you’ll hear singing ((un))’s literate tales of “intense states of being, be they extraordinarily happy or extraordinarily hard”. But he’s also the abundantly talented chap who wrote, played, programmed and produced every last note of this album. He even handles all of his own artwork and videos (they’re very good too).

The hard work clearly paid off. ((un)) is a richly-detailed record that’s as strikingly innovative and contrasting as it is sonically impressive. But, more importantly, it also contains 11 belting examples of quality modern pop songs. From the gorgeous, electo-acoustic yearn of Sweet Thing to the caustic, break-up grooves of Yours, these are songs which all sound well capable of breathing life, heart and soul into daytime radio. Black certainly won’t be short of options when it comes to picking singles.

“Making this record has deprived me of sleep for more than a year. I’ve slaved and obsessed over every little part of it, like a painter going over and over his canvas. But it was totally worth it. This is as close as humanly possible to the record I’ve always wanted to make. That’s a pretty exciting feeling.”

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