Electronic producer and James Blake cohort Rob McAndrews, aka Airhead, created something beautiful, strange and totally unnecessary for his debut, For Years. Unnecessary isn't exactly a bad thing -- it's just that the music doesn't do much more than sound great. It doesn't haave a purpose and it doesn't need one.
The first track, “Wait,” is an opening so disjointed it sounds like something is wrong, like iTunes shuffle is malfunctioning and skipping, firing off random snippets from an eclectic music library. Most prominent in the samples is Karen O's yelping and groaning, culled from different Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs. It sets the tone for a record that feels disconnected, both from its own parts and reality.
Some of the material, like “Masami” seems to barely exist. It's not so much music as it is nebulous collection of pretty sounds. In fact, the last 30-or-so seconds of that song is near silence. What keeps For Years from settling in as background music is the way it often snaps out of one mode and into another, unexpectedly and mid-song. One second you're hearing ambient swirls and the next it's a clacking, thumping and stuttering beat.
Some of the songs on For Years have literally been in the works for years, and yet it doesn't sound like it's been stagnating in McAndrews' bedroom all this time. And for all the shifting and bending this record does, it manages to hold together as one vast, pretty soundscape.