Album Review

When You're Gone

When You're Gone

By Lapalux

Brainfeeder Records
8 / 10
22nd February 2012

By Martyn Pepperell

Since the release of his limited run cassette tape EP Forest in 2008, Essex, UK based beatsmith and DJ Lapalux has been slowly but surely building himself an impeccable musical curriculum vitae. Favouring dense textural soundscapes and skipping post garage (and post J-Dilla) rhythmic impulses, his music has quietly (and yet impressively) explored the intersection between avant-garde sound art and the sweaty physical thrills of the nightclub.

While Forest was often an erratic, hyper attention deficit journey, his following cassette tape/digital download EP Many Faces Out of Focus (2011) was a revelatory experience. Providing those sore from James Blake's post CMYK pub singer hangover with an intoxicating adventure into a cyborg soundworld, Many Faces out of Focus was equal parts naturalistic and mechanical. At crux, it was a veritable sonic remake of Rene Descartes' philosophy of mind-body dualism, more commonly known through its titular codification by British philosopher Gilbert Ryle as, the "ghost in the machine."

And in an era where augmented reality is close to becoming commonplace, human beings live in symbiosis with smartphones, tablets and intelligent personal software with names like Siri, and American thinker Ray Kurzweil's theory of a technological singularity enters mainstream conversation at an accelerating pace, Lapalux's latest EP When You're Gone, seems perfectly in key with the zeitgeist.

Having shifted from UK based imprint Pictures Music to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder Records for this release, When You're Gone takes Lapalux's symbiotic approach to the integration of man and machine to new heights. Seven songs long (or half an hour, depending on how you want to phrase it), Lapalux deftly pitch bends vocal samples, generating genderless, angelic phrases, around which he lets his synthesiser (or VST) work chirp, flutter, bubble and worm. Backed up by snappy rhythms, sub aquatic bass stabs and tastefully manipulated field recordings, the music expands and contracts at will, threatening to collapse under its own weight before re-inflating to definitively maximal levels of sound and impact.

Kicking off with the hazy, rainy mist of '102 Hours of Introductions', things slowly build, hitting an early peak during 'Yellow 90s', which is essentially a forward leaning updating of the Zapp band synth funk format (which was again appropriated as a key building block of West Coast hip-hop and g-gunk). The next apex occurs in 'Gutter Glitter', a refractive crystalline slab of geometric beat music, seemingly saturated in as many different digital keyboard/VST tones as there are spectral colours. Bookended by the windy dronescape of Face Down Eyes Shut, proceedings conclude through washes of thick sound juxtaposed with twinkling stargazed melodic devices and faded ambient vocals.

Meanwhile, connecting cuts 'Moments' feat PY, 'Gone' and 'Construction Deconstruction' maintain similar themes, dropping up and down in intensity and depth as required by Lapalux's overall EP narrative. Ultimately, When You're Gone is the kind of engagingly inspirational record that suggests new ways in sound, stimulating the ears with fresh motifs, forms, structures and tones. As Yoda would say, "Deeply deserving of close attentive attention it is, listen closely you must."






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