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Boombox Blitz: Dan Black falls apart on ‘Space Invaders’

Welcome to Boombox Blitz, an artist spotlight series showcasing overlooked singers, songwriters and musicians who are quietly taking over the world.

The fluorescent light bounces eerily across his well-polished exterior, a jarring and prophetic ray then dances erratically in the air and warmly mixes with the potent aroma of freshly-baked donuts of every shape, size, texture and consistency. His metallic figure is off-putting and exudes a rather ominous, intimidating air. Plopped down in the middle of a local donut shop might seem like a terrifyingly jolly setting for The Twilight Zone, but for Dan Black, it is the center of a torrential cyclone of creative energy, particles bouncing around his skull and popping out through his teeth. Well. At least that’s what legend says.

In the aftermath of his second studio record, the aptly titled Do Not Revenge, inspired by a little-known Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, there is one jarringly infectious track which continues to bubble to the top: “Space Invaders.” From the animalistic grind of iron-clad synths against rusted, crumbling drums, Black spins a euphoric tale of fuzzy-headed heartache ⎯⎯ “maybe this is something wrong with me,” he denounces of himself. His pain seems to come in the immediate wake of the breakup. “I gave you everything I had,” he whimpers, an arsenic-laced accusatory tone seeping in. “I would have found anything you needed.”

Rubbed down with the elixir of alternative strains of hip-hop, with a tinted, magnificently-concocted alt-pop poison, the hook is far removed from what you could possible hear on radio. That’s the unequivocal charm, as Black needles together his story with remarkable fervor. “Disco, I know. We want what they sell. Those lies inside, they won’t set me free,” he warbles, chant-like, thickly-positioned amidst unforgiving waves of production. His syncopated vocal acts as a sail boat lost out at sea, riding and cresting and tumbling and gasping for breath. Low-key the song of the summer, Black’s return to music ⎯⎯ it took him eight years between albums, if you can believe that ⎯⎯ is setting up to be one of the most satisfying breakthroughs of the year.

Listen below:

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Jason Scott

Editor-in-Chief of the Badlands, spinning those B-Sides. Love Parks & Rec. Addicted to high-priced coffee drinks, alt-country and synth-pop, and never know when to quit. Got a cat named Jake--and she doesn't like you very much.