RA's review of In Your Gut Like A Knife, the first single from Gang Colours, threw up Four Tet and Floating Points as possible trajectories for his sound. However, upon listening to his debut album, The Keychain Collection, these comparisons don't seem so useful. Will Ozanne signed to Gilles Peterson's Brownswood back in January of 2011 and there's little doubt that the combination of the brand and the Southampton producer's digestible electronic music will tickle peoples' interest in the same way Nico Jaar's textured work has appealed to wider audiences. Gang Colours, however, lacks the depth of his contemporary across the pond: though his productions are similarly emotive, by the end of this LP Ozanne's story comes across as one dimensional by comparison.
What rings out louder than any other influence is that of UK garage, with The Streets cited by Ozanne himself as a major inspiration. Mike Skinner might seem like a strange reference if you're listening to The Keychain Collection for the first time, but the likeness is in the way Gang Colours reinterprets UKG for himself in the same way that The Streets took the genre and moulded it to his own ends.
Ozanne's UKG is not upbeat or danceable but more stoned and thoughtful. It's headphone music designed for the beanbag, which doesn't bother with any of garage's imported house cliches. There's no stabbing or urgent percussion; no overly sentimental vocal hooks; and none of the tracks stray over four-and-a-half minutes. The slow-mo, skipping beats contrast nicely with The Keychain Collection's more musical elements, making the album quite endearing on first listen—it's easy to realise that Ozanne is trying to tell a story, albeit at snail's pace.
This is a blessing and a curse: On first listen, this pleasantness is charming. After a while, though, you realize that The Keychain Collection lacks any sort of impetus, which becomes more striking on repeat listens. Where at first the album brings on a dream-like state, a few listens later and the bed might seem more comfortable than the beanbag. Tracks like "To Repel Ghosts" and "Fancy Restaurant" are no better examples—the pulsing bass and crisp percussion are hardly challenging and it's essentially background music that delivers little momentum and demands no concentration. In a sense, The Keychain Collection is a little bit of a tease. It fools you into thinking it requires closer attention. The album certainly isn't a waste of time, but most disappointing is that it lacks an intensity and message. Music doesn't need to have that to be good per se. But it does need to have it to be great.
Buy Gang Colours - The Keychain Collection at
Tracklist: Gang Colours - The Keychain Collection 01. Heavy Petting
02. Forgive Me?
03. To Repel Ghosts
04. I Don't Want You Calling
05. Pebble Dash
06. Tissues & Fivers
07. Botley In Bloom
08. Fancy Restaurant
09. On Compton Bay
10. Rollo's Ivory Tale