Airhead is a name that has been visible just below the rising wave of post-dubstep beatmakers over the past few years, most notably as James Blake's touring guitarist (and even collaborating with Blake on a Brainmath single), in addition to turning in remixes for Mount Kimbie and Shlohmo. Now, the producer has been tapped by R&S for a proper single of his own, presenting two songs that attempt to mash together everything from hazy beats and UK-style broken-step to guitar-based electronics and acoustic pop, begging the unnecessarily convoluted question: Is the world ready for somber, post-dubstep instrumental pop? Probably not.
"Wait" begins like the most scattered of beats, with vocal snippets firing off almost at random as a sparse clap does its best to keep hold of the slothful tempo. Just 30 seconds into "Wait," the first sign of trouble appears in the form of a filtered, fuzzy acoustic guitar, strumming a riff that could have found a more appropriate home on a Feist record. From there, whiny female vocals are chopped and spun into unintelligible phrases and reversed asides, which then leads to the second acoustic guitar breakdown. "Wait" manages to eventually throw itself into even more treacherous territory, as two buzzing electric guitar melodies float atop the beat, now complete with pitter-pat percussion and imbued with the faintest of skitters. It's Mount Kimbie meets Beach House meets CocoRosie, but none of it seems to stick. The flip, "South Congress," starts out much more promising, but eventually falls into a similar pitfall amongst its disorienting mess of influences. The tempo and the feel are right for a halfway-decent take on cloudy hip-hop, but again, the eventual presence of unfitting guitar and a bizarrely triumphant progression are too much to overlook.
What you're left with at the end of "Wait" b/w "South Congress" is an inability to do much more than scratch your head. Truthfully, there's not much to object to here as far as production value is concerned, as the textures and sonics are, for the most part, of a professional quality. It's really the aim of the music that does this single in, as it shoves too many ideas into a mere four-minute beat. Maybe Airhead's forthcoming debut LP—also for R&S—will allow him some time to explore these ideas a little further, and possibly even make sense of them in the context of a full-length. For now, all we have is this single, and, quite frankly, it just isn't working.