Last year, in her profile of Blood Orange for The New York Times magazine, Lizzy Goodman defines Dev Hynes as the archetype of a new model of artist, whose main talent is his ability to”assert his identity as an absence of one, to express his creative gifts while committing fully to none of them“.
Blood Orange, like Donald Glover (also quoted by Goodman), has the gift of being unique, but at the same time completely divisible into different personalities, and for this reason so flexible and versatile. Unmistakable as well as unmistakable. This “gift” allowed him to be the visible and invisible hand of numerous projects (otherwise very different from each other) and to create his own identity in personal works like Freetown Sound, Negro Swan and the last (but his first) Angel’s Pulse mixtape.
Once again with this new project, which Hynes defines as a sort of epilogue of the previous Negro Swan, we realize how good he is at exploring all his personalities and all of the sides of Hynes’ sound and channeling them into his productions in a way that is far from uncertain and fragmented.
What I want to say is that although Angel’s Pulse in its mixtape nature gives Blood Orange the chance to be even more eclectic and free to mix all his colorful influences on the palette, the product still has a compact homogeneity and a recognizable artistic identity.
The arrangements and productions of the songs on Angel’s Pulse feels as light as angel feathers: some compositions recall the R&B of the 90s, other melodies emphasized by nostalgic synths take us back to the 80s, while the choice of collaborators is another reflection of randomness and idiosyncrasy of the project. Toro Y Moi, Arca, Ian Isiah, Tinashe, Joba and Kelsey Lu help the artist to experience the formless material of mixtape.
Even in this loose mood, there are also the touching themes that characterize Hynes’s writing, but in his previous albums, they had a more unitary and intentional narrative than now. In these 14 tracks, Blood Orange feels free to fly on the wings of Angel’s Pulse, combining gospel with rap, and dance music with psych-rock in less than half an hour and giving us a finished product with infinite possibilities.