Blackhaine’s music has, throughout the years, captured a dark, cloudy, and rainy aesthetic, portraying the misery and poverty of the working class in the North-West of England. The Preston-born artist has an ability to completely transport me to his creative and cinematic world through his immersive ambient soundscapes, and poems speaking on his experiences growing up in a seemingly forgotten part of the country. Armour II is his most recent body of work and a follow-up to his 2020 EP of the same name. Produced by his former classmate and talented producer Rainy Miller (I deffo recommend you check his stuff out!), Blackhaine is able to flesh out his thoughts on ambient, yet punchy drill production, with incredible pulsating moments that transport me to his creative conscience.
“Stained Materials” kicks the project off with a bang, as the moody electronic soundscape gives Blackhaine the opportunity to speak emotively, almost shouting “I was dreaming I was dead”, over increasingly loud and distorted synths, before the track transforms into this futuristic drill beat, with Blackhaine’s passionate voice making this an animated and engaging listen. Listening to him flow throughout this track is mesmerising, and the way he enunciates his words is just so special to me. Blackhaine’s willingness to share his vulnerability with the world is what makes his music so incredibly potent and relatable, and is not afraid to pour his heart out on record. In many ways, this is his most soulful project to date, not only due to his openness on the project, but the sonic arrangements that make this an introspective, immersive experience. “Pavements” featuring Rainy Miller and “Prayer” featuring Iceboy Violet and Blood Orange are sonically colourful tracks, with a dynamic beat and beautiful contributions from both guests, really bringing a smooth, moody ambience to the project. The heavy drums on “Armour Freestyle” and synth melodies give Blackhaine the opportunity to flow and rhyme with authority, with Moseley’s beautiful guest vocals creating this smooth and soulful touch to the otherwise hard-hitting track. “Waiting Room” featuring kinseyLloyd is another highlight on the album, with stunning synths and strings, with a cinematic and beautiful soundscape that is just so incredibly poignant and immersive, it’s an incredible way to close the album out. The piano-led closing few minutes on the track are just breathtaking, as kinseyLloyd’s reflective words make this closing track a gorgeous one.
On Armour II with the help of Rainy Miller’s eclectic sonic soundscapes, Blackhaine is able to flex his incredible flows and rhymes with serious topics touching on the effects of state violence, poverty and drugs among other things, with dream-like sequences that are mesmerising and utterly captivating. It’s a project I’ve already listened to countless times, and one which will guide me through the more introspective and lonely moments of my own life. Go support Blackhaine’s new EP Armour II now.