Formerly known as the ranty noise-maker behind poet/rapper Scroobius Pip, Dan le Sac's debut album was released in July.
After two albums as a duo – Angles in 2008 and Logic of Chance two years later – both let themselves off the leash with solo projects, Pip with Distraction Pieces last year and now this, Space Between The Words, where le Sac collaborates with a range of artists to produce something unique and stylish.
On Distraction Pieces, Pip takes a turn for the dark side, but his producer proves to be quite the magpie, flitting from style to style, artist to artist with ease and a deftness of touch that certainly wasn't present on Angles. Clearly he wasn't about to start singing, but the range and quality of the artists he's been able to work with on this album speaks volumes for the regard he's held in as a producer. There's a clear trust that he's not about to butcher their babies, their songs.
The two tracks released to the world ahead of the album are the most obvious singles. Play Along, featuring Sarah Williams White, has the air of Lily Allen's evil twin sister about it. Pip collaborator B Dolan voices Caretaker, a Lyrically intelligent piece with the chart appeal of something like Gangster's Paradise. Perhaps it needs adding to a film soundtrack to push it over the top – there's certainly plenty on here that would not sounds out of place in a cinematic environment.
Memorial is reminiscent of early Portishead, Emmy the Great's vocal sounding uncannily like Beth Gibbons, while the thumping beat – with vocals to match from Joshua Idehen – of Tuning is a foot-stomping floor-filler.
But the masterpiece is saved to last and it's the album in microcosm. Cherubs begins like a Sigur Ros record, all floaty and ethereal with an idiosyncratic percussion track. Then Pete Hefferan's vocals – he of Pete and the Pirates – kick in with a Robert Smith quality lending a Cure vibe to things, though never enough to overwhelm the unique sound Dan has been able to infuse the whole album with.
Comparisons are inevitable, but putting that to one side, this is a mightily impressive piece of work. So often, producer-led projects can sound cold, clinical, just too damn efficient. Not this; this is varied, warm and engaging. Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music seems a life lesson well lived.