To write a review about Lapalux’s music and not use the words ‘beautifully atmospheric’ a thousand times is no easy task. Stuart Howard aka Lapalux has released ‘When You’re Gone’ on California based record label Brainfeeder and we are presented with something altogether more artistic than his previous efforts.
Like great art, great music should make the recipient feel something. The feeling should then last and it should make us reflect and consider what we have experienced. We then try to move on with our day and reposition our focus but when great art strikes, we simply cannot. This EP feels like that. With the first listen we sense the craftsmanship and attention to detail evident throughout and each track could stand alone without the support of the others. A sign that we have something good.
In the first track ’102 Hours of Introductions’ we are introduced via an almost seascape type of setting into a crescendo of faint vocals, natural and un-natural rings and drums and a gravitational pull that begins in the ears and descends quickly into the chest. The sensation is sultry and irresistible and the feeling continues into the cinematic experience that is ‘Moments’ featuring vocalist Py. The word ‘cinematic’ seems fitting; this is a record that deserves to be listened to on a sound system that will do it justice. Like a good movie deserves a good screen. There are so many aspects of these tracks that exist on the very horizon of our consciousness that we could miss them if we do not listen carefully. But once they are realised, they are unforgettable. Imagine the best bits of James Blake, Bonobo and Flying Lotus and ‘When You’re Gone’ is probably better at the moment. It certainly feels that way.
The music on this EP lays somewhere transiently between hip-hop, electronica and R&B. The beats swirl and repeat themselves like breaking waves. Satisfyingly, too. ‘Gone’ is a more mechanical, industrial experience with a home-made feel and lends itself to the cosmic beat rhythms of someone like Nosaj Thing. The references are so deep and rich throughout this record yet all the while we are constantly aware that Lapalux has made his own piece of art. It does something that other modern beat-driven records do not. It transmits beauty and sensitivity in abundance.
In ‘Yellow 90′s’ we are treated with something a little more disco-fuelled. It has a filtered, synthetic pop feel. It rises and then retreats in even measures. There are unusual sounds everywhere. Knocks and hums, echoes and bangs that sit alongside classical strings and piano keys to make for an excellent slice of r&b-cum-pop music.
The EP draws elegantly to a close with the ever constant reminder of sweeping riffs and catchy vocal loops. In an age where the technological advances in electronic music has become king, when it is done this well we are reminded why we love glitchy electro, beat driven music. ‘Gutter Glitter’ perhaps competes with ‘Moments’ as the stand out track. We hear a Korg synthesiser purring alongside a fluid, almost aquatic vocal pattern.
‘When You’re Gone’ culminates with a three and a half minute moment of reflection. Calming and totally inspiring with just a touch of human presence. We have listened to something wonderful and it disappears as softly as it appeared. With all kinds of feeling in-between. This EP operates like great art does. It isn’t forgotten, and if we can take a moment to consider risking what we know best by not judging something by its cover, this EP might not be such a risk after-all: it’s stunning.
Check out Lapalux’s Inhabit Mix HERE.
Release date: 20/2/2012
Words by Ben Hughes