Subjective – Act One: Music For Inanimate Objects

Subjective sees DJ Goldie and producer James Davidson slow it right down on their first collaborative album

Album Review by Jemima Skala | 16 Jan 2019
  • Subjective – Act One: Music For Inanimate Objects
Album title: Act One: Music For Inanimate Objects
Artist: Subjective
Label: Sony Music Masterworks
Release date: 18 Jan

Subjective is the collaboration between British national treasure Goldie and producer James Davidson, who worked on Goldie’s 2017 release The Journey Man. New album Act One: Music For Inanimate Objects is a far cry from where Goldie started out; gone are the hard breakbeats and skyrocketing BPMs, although his origins in jungle and D'n'B can occasionally be heard in the drums on opening track Midnight Monsoon and the garage-esque touch on Find Your Light. Instead, this album leans more towards the softer side of electronic music, the one that favours headphones over big sound systems. Even the title feels like a less-than-subtle nod to Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music For Airports

Creating ambient music is a skill that is not to be sniffed at. While Subjective’s first offering isn’t strictly ambient, it acts as a gateway into the genre. The softer sounds on tracks like Silent Running and Waypoint are tonally ambiguous – minor or major? Happy or sad? Good ambient music shouldn’t lull, but unsettle. I Saw Her Last Summer is a standout track; the downbeat feels like a sigh of relief, unsettled by the rising bassline, creating a perfect imbalance. Where the forays into ambience are well done, some of the tracks with vocal lines vary more. Find Your Light feels like an early noughties hip-hop track and therefore slightly contrived, but Stay, with its upbeat tempo, hits the mark better, as does Landscape - Portrait in the way it echoes back to Des'ree. 

Act One: Music For Inanimate Objects is certainly a good album, but sometimes it feels like the only thing linking all the songs together is their slower tempo. It certainly is nice to see a more reflective side of Goldie, and Davidson’s production skills shine through on the record. If the only reason for this album is the pair’s collaboration and experimentation together, then it would be fascinating to see what a second album could offer.

Listen to: I Saw Her Last Summer, Inkolelo, Re-Entry