A fantastic reinvention from the Manchester producer, and one of 2012’s best.
Mike Diver 2012-05-11
Having made a name for himself with previous collections of gauzy Madlib-inspired fare, Manchester producer Matt Cutler steps his Lone alias out of its perceived comfort zone for this fifth long-play set, with the focus switched to streamlined beats and shimmery synths.
As befits any release on the revitalised R&S imprint, it’s not short of a pulse-quickening passage or three; but by mixing physically compelling motifs with cerebrally explorative textures, Cutler has realised perhaps his greatest album yet.
And it’s not a release that takes itself entirely seriously – despite its architecture being up to a highly accomplished, somewhat perfectionist standard. Lying in the Reeds’ intermittent instances of slowing the tempo makes for a dancefloor puzzler, a beats-and-bleeps manifestation of The Matrix/Max Payne-style bullet time techniques. One might well put an ankle out under the disco lights trying to second-guess its movements.
Opening brace New Colour and The Animal Pattern fly brightly coloured banners atop towering constructs of tightly woven keys; both ring similar bells to those struck by Oriol’s phenomenally fun 2010 LP for Planet Mu, Night & Day. There’s palpable glee to be heard in the arrangement of Crystal Caverns 1991, too. As its title implies, it’s a flashback to hyperactive rave rhythms of the early 1990s, and probably the best summoning of the period since Zomby’s jaw-dropping Where Were U in 92? exercise in riveting revivalism, released in 2009.
Aggressive-of-tempo but never distractingly bamboozling cuts complement the less-hectic affairs. Machinedrum, aka stateside producer Travis Stuart, contributes to two tracks, the first of which merges sunrise-at-the-Café-del-Mar ambience with some fleet-footed juke-like twitchiness. Said number, As a Child, is followed by an equally impressive meeting of minds. Cthulhu seeps into the synapses just as slyly as its titular beast manifested subconscious anxiety in mankind in the writing of H.P. Lovecraft, and in no time at all one’s extremities are possessed.
Dream Girl / Sky Surfer is stadium dance Atlantis-style, all hydro-electric histrionics, and closer Spirals finds guest vocalist Anneka on the same fine form she showcased on FaltyDL’s sublime Gospel of Opal.
Taut but tactile, energising yet engaging on a sit-down level as well as on jump-around terms, this remarkable reinvention stands proudly beside sets from Slugabed, Actress and John Talabot as one of "dance"-in-2012’s very best albums.