Lone, Galaxy Garden

[R&S Records]

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Over the past five years, Nottingham’s Matt Cutler has sprinted through several distinct genres, from his early peach-colored hip-hop experiments through to 2010’s Boards of Canada-referencing lesson in ambient house, Emerald Fantasy Tracks. Throughout he has remained fascinated by harmony, specifically the extent to which it can uplift while daring to stay rhythmically jarring. In this sense, Galaxy Garden is his coup de grĂ¢ce, a world of maximalist breakbeat hardcore in which there are always at least four hooks in play at any one time, and yet the mix is never baroque or overwrought. Like Rustie, Lone chases the rush of information overload, but whereas Glass Swords was futurist cheesecake (albeit delicious), Galaxy Garden reaches its highs in a more grounded, honest manner, with Cutler trying to impress and excite us with complexity, rather than simply overwhelm.

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After the catalytic “New Colour,” “As a Child” is the first indication Galaxy Garden is going to be a real workout. It’s a late introduction full of smudgy synths, occasional juke beat, and relentless junglist bass to an energetic, fast-paced set that rarely lets up. Quickly following is the charming “Lying in the Reeds,” a track full of playful bells and bright tin, before key single “Crystal Caverns 1991” emerges: a chamfered drum and bass block that willfully gives way to a truly insane clutch of techy ‘ardcore stabs. It’s an uplifting listen. The album continues at full tilt, throwing djembes into bed with droplets of chords and syncopated snares. Rave culture remnants are pleasingly rushed over, with clipped millisecond football whistles and cheesy bongos buried in the mix. “Earth’s Lungs” even embraces IDM, its percussion interlocking around flat, illogical acid leads before becoming a shuffling, hi-hat driven mess. It all ends with “Spirals” featuring vocalist Anneka, a pairing that works remarkably well. Djembes and familiar chords reprise as the singer’s breathy vowels fade into a distant black water. Generously emotional, it’s an unexpected outro that’s somehow all the more comfortable in sitting on its own at the end of a crazy night on Lone’s moonlit beach.

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If there is a qualm, it’s the consistency of the mixdown. “Crystal Caverns 1991” and “Spirals” are noticeably brighter, the bass richer, than the tracks that serve as bridges between ideas — “The Animal Pattern,” for example — to the extent that there is a slight discrepancy between the favored tracks. But it’s a judgement that seems cruel to a record that functions by way of the pleasure principle and delivers so much fun. Overall the album comes across as a better-organized, twitchier cousin of Salva’s 2011 Complex Housing LP on Friends Of Friends, with a passing resemblance to Scuba’s 2010 Triangulation. We can’t control what our ears and synapses want, and at the moment mine are quite happy with Lone’s warm extension of an exploded retro sound. It isn’t a record that has anything to argue at the table of global bass, but it is certainly one that will bring people joy.


Little White Earbuds May Charts 2012 | Little White Earbuds  on June 1, 2012 at 10:01 AM

[…] (buy) 08. The Citizen’s Band, “Densed” [Live At Robert Johnson] (buy) 09. Lone, “As A Child (ft. Machinedrum)” [R&S Records] (buy) 10. Actress, “The Lord’s Graffiti” [Honest Jon's […]

Little White Earbuds July Charts 2012 | Little White Earbuds  on August 3, 2012 at 10:02 AM

[…] [Hippos In Tanks] 02. Wavy Spice, “Bitch I’m Posh” [self released] 03. Lone, “Lying In The Reeds” [R&S Records] 04. Trance Yo Lie, “Cosa C’e’ Sotto?” [Wania] 05. Howard […]

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