Album Review: Lapalux – Lustmore

Lapalux returns with a third long-player that sacrifices experiment for accessibility. The UK producer is known for making the kind of heady electronic music that has found him an accommodating home at Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder imprint, a label that features such luminaries of experimental hip hop as Samiyam, Ras G, and Tokimonsta.

This brand of post-Dilla, post-dubstep ‘beat music’ (sometimes referred to as ‘glitch’ or ‘wonky’) is certainly a crowded field, but Lapalux has been able to stand out from the crowd with his densely layered, collage-like productions. His maximalist tendencies have made his work captivating but very often impenetrable. As such we have seen the producer exercise considerably more restraint on recent projects, and Lustmore emerges as a logical next step in the artist’s continuing growth and evolution.

The result is a restrained yet focused effort of atmospheric, beatific soundscaping. The album opens with ‘U Never Know’, one of two collaborations with singer Andreya Triana. Triana has previously had great success working with such bright lights of modern electronic music as Mr Scruff, Bonobo, and Flying Lotus, and as such is more than well suited to this production – her smoky, soulful vocals perfectly paired with Lapalux’s hazy yet stirring opening track. ‘Sum Body’ mellows things out a bit, with its twinkling keys and looped, breathy vocal sample.

Third track ‘Closure’ features another emergent vocal talent in the form of Szjerdene. It’s a testament to Lapalux as a producer that he is able to make a song that is still texturally detailed yet spacious enough to accommodate Szjerdene and allow her to shine through, which she does in fine style. Still, it’s space age ‘Midnight Peelers’ that really stands out as one of the album highlights. The track is epic futurism, and sounds like it could score a science fiction movie with its Vangelis-esque synths.

The following quintet presents more of a return to normalcy for the Essex-based producer. ‘Push N’ Spun’ sounds like it could’ve easily fitted on early EP While You’re Gone, with its patchwork of sounds and hectic drum patterns falling over each other. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s certainly a comedown from previous tracks and doesn’t really have much to distinguish it from older material. ‘We Lost’, ‘Autumn (Tape Interlude)’ are blissful exercises in understatement, setting things up nicely for the second Andreya Triana collaboration, ‘Puzzle’. This track is easily the best of the bunch and sounds lush and jazzy with its horn riffs, dreamy chords, and Triana’s near-whispered vocals. The final song completing this set, ‘Bud’, is fine as far as instrumental hip-hop is concerned, even if it sounds a little uninspired.

‘Don’t Mean A Thing’ is another standout, and perfectly demonstrates Lapalux’s more refined sound. Again, we’re at a far remove from the frenetic drum patterns of past efforts with a slightly clipped beat guaranteed to make heads nod. What really makes this track special is the bouncy, compressed synth that buzzes in halfway through and pitch-bent keys that give the whole thing a woozy, hypnotic quality. ‘1004’ is a great accompaniment in this respect, with a slightly more frantic beat but equally arresting and dream-like melodic structure.

The pace changes somewhat with ‘Make Money’, a club-ready trap banger that sounds great on big speakers and will no doubt do any rig justice, if it feels a little out of place on an album this spacey and chilled. As such it’s a bit of a juxtaposition, especially given the album closer ‘Funny Games’, a work of mellow and ambient electronica reminiscent of The Orb. It’s the kind of track that recalls the first light of dawn on empty streets and serves as the ideal conclusion.

Overall, Lustmore is a worthy addition to the Lapalux discography, and showcases a producer that has progressed from project to project, honed his sound, and mastered his technique. The only negative criticism I have is that perhaps he could have taken more risks with the production. Part of what makes Lapalux such a gifted producer is his ability to experiment with sound and texture, and while his efforts may not always have worked in the past, I would’ve liked to have heard more from that side of him. That being said, this is one of the finest electronic records to be released in 2015, a year which is already going down as one of the most exciting in recent times for music of any genre.

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