The Gaslamp Killer Breakthrough Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A formidable and immersive debut from the Californian turntablist.

Ian Roullier 2012

While Brainfeeder label boss Flying Lotus may currently be receiving all of the attention for his new album, Until the Quiet Comes, one of his charges has assembled a formidable debut album in the form of Breakthrough. A respected turntablist with a string of well-received DJ mixes to his name, The Gaslamp Killer, aka California’s William Bensussen, has crafted a fine sonic stew that lurches from dark, edgy paranoia to more melodic, drum-heavy daydreaming and back again.

Taking his name from San Diego’s Gaslamp district, where he grew up and began his DJing career, The Gaslamp Killer showed promise as a producer on earlier releases such as Turk Mex and the Death Gate EP. The manic, aural onslaught of Breakthrough builds and delivers upon that promise.

Introduced by a cacophonous brew of twisted spoken samples, sci-fi bleeps and dislocated vocal bursts, a loose sense of structure is imposed by Veins, a mix of Eleanor Rigby-styled strings and Gonjasufi’s distorted crooning.

Bensussen’s sound may echo early DJ Shadow material but the end results are uniquely personal, none more so than during the Father and Mother interludes. Besides, he doesn’t just rely on clever sample-bricolage to construct tracks, album standouts like Nissim and Keep It Simple Stupid feature fresh, live recordings. The former sees tambur-player Amir Yaghmai’s jamming open up into a beautiful, exotic and uplifting celebration of a track; while the latter, a collaboration with Shigeto, is built around a crazy, seemingly eight-limbed live drum solo.

The highlights are numerous, with the lazy electro funk of Holy Mt Washington; crazed, psychedelic, Daedelus-featuring drum and synth wig-out, Impulse; and the doom-laden, contorted rhythms and fearsome chords of closing track In the Dark proving particularly satisfying.

Calling an album Breakthrough may seem like an idle or arrogant boast but the quality of The Gaslamp Killer’s debut, which is crammed with quick-fire ideas and restless creative energy, should provide him with just that. Bensussen has delivered a varied, immersive set of highly memorable, enjoyable and danceable tracks that should push him further into the limelight where he has triumphantly proved he belongs.

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