Written By: Sam Marshall
Originality: (4.0 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (5.0 / 5) Lyrics: (4.0 / 5) Production: (5.0 / 5) Average: (4.5 / 5)
Corbin, Spooky Black, or Lil Spook- whichever title you know him as- released his debut album, Mourn in September this year.
The first thing that struck me when I pressed play on Mourn, was the raw emotion in it. I was expecting (somewhat naively) the white-boy-does-rap thing, and what I got was wholly different. Mourn opens with “ICE BOY,” an INXS-esque drum intro, but Corbin is soon in full vocal outpouring: “if you lose interest leave me to die/no it wouldn’t be the first time I don’t mind”. It was a pretty somber opening, but it really made me sit up and listen. I don’t normally listen to mopey, heartbreak songs, so I really had to focus on what I was listening to. While it is undoubtedly depressing, there is something really refreshing about Mourn. As an album, it taps into such raw emotion and feeling in a way that no modern artist would not dare to. Listening to the album, you hear strange influences and sounds that you really wouldn’t expect alongside the half-sung poetry of Corbin. He doesn’t settle on just the heartfelt lyrics, there is some cool instrumental work underneath, if you listen hard enough. In “ICE BOY”, for example, there is the 90s drumbeat, but you get little pangs of Aphex Twin underneath.
The production on the album is great, and the reverb-y sound effects really add to the mood and otherness of the album. “Something Safe” has such a laidback, chill opening that you feel like you’re listening to a later Brian Eno album. You hear a lot of almost neo-noir film soundtrack in the album too, and I think the artistic message as well as the instrumentation lends itself to this. You can see Corbin easily putting a soundtrack on a film like Drive. Songs like “Revenge Song” are particularly hard to listen to, but purely because of the story Corbin is telling in them. The rawness is so harrowing, you really imagine every bit of the story he is trying to tell you; even though you don’t want to.
Corbin is a stand out artist in the field of melancholic ambient music, and is in many ways much more raw and evocative than peers like Radiohead. While you would maybe not want to have Mourn on in the background all the time, it makes you endure his emotion, and there is definitely a time and place for this. With Mourn, Corbin aligns himself with modern sonic and vocal artists as momentous as James Blake. Approach with caution, but you will not be disappointed.