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Lone - Ecstasy and Friends


It’s always exciting to hear material that with a flourish announces its aesthetic immediately. Matt Cutler’s second album takes the blissful hiphop-influenced pop of his debut “Lemourian” and moves it forward ever so slightly with a collection of instrumentals; whilst they don’t really divert a great deal from a standard template, there’s enough in the way of harmony and his own unique groove to have you captivated for the album’s duration.

Cutler’s melodies  and rhythm mix up a range of influences, from the narcotic,distorted groove of Theo Parrish and label boss Darren Cunningham,and the subdued, abstract thump of Scott Herren to 8-bit computer game music. He layers it with a range of glitchy processes that contribute to the album having a distorted, hallucinatory aspect, but to his credit knows when to apply it - all too often producers can mangle compositions with the tendency to try to make their songs idiosyncratic by applying all manner of post-production.

The tracks themselves never last longer than 4 minutes or so - Cutler manages to create a particular groove immediately and then pushes this to the fore of his tracks from the start. As such, it’s not hard to be locked in straight away, as he lays down simplistic melodies over the top. “Arcade” in particular is typical of the album - a 3/4 beat being carried along by a jarring, mutating synth line that from to time is looped backwards, and by the end you’re not sure whether the original melody has been completely reversed or not. “Waves Imagination” is a curious mix of early 90’s balearic-style hiphop and lo-fi production, again Cutler is not afraid just to let the groove carry the song along until it ends.

The album’s best track is “Love Heads”, minor key melodies shuffling along to a particularly subterranean beat - but in amongst the intense production it’s possible to perceive some space and the odd flutter of other synth lines eddying into a primordial mix of sound and beats. At times you feel as “Ecstasy and Friends” will suffocate under the weight of its own intensity - Cutler doesn’t relent with the aesthetic - and it’s akin to sucking on a very sugary confectionary at times, but there’s a ubiquity to the album that shines through. Although the lack of variety will jar some, “Ecstasy and Friends” is an excellent addition to the Werk roster.

Toby Frith

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