Send me your track


Lone - Emerald Fantasy Tracks


Magic Wire Recordings

What makes a great album? Strong composition, narrative, invention, a sense of individual character and more often than not a hefty dose of je ne sais quoi - the sense of being in the right place at the right time without really providing any weighty evidence otherwise. “Emerald Fantasy Tracks” is such a beast; an eight track release that eschews the rhythmic invention of Matt Cutler’s previous material for an escapist ride that takes some of the best elements of dance music - Detroit, Chicago, Warp, Rave - and provides you with a telling reminder about what this genre is capable of. Blend it with some luminous production and you have a charismatic album that is one of the stronger releases of 2010.

Cutler’s material has had chromatic elements in it from the beginning, with Ecstasy and friends” in particular aligning hiphop and balearic bliss, but here matters are somewhat more straightforward - with him rarely if ever deviating from 4/4. Like Danny Wolfers, Cutler has a particularly idiosyncratic way with melodies, taking strong influences from Chicago and early 90’s Sheffield Bleep and then making the odd adjustment for his own aesthetic, keeping the rhythms simple. Opener “Cloud 909” takes in Theo Parrish and pastoral electronica, the jarring lead synthline being complemented by some gorgeous countermelodies. Cutler’s love of Detroit shines through in “Aquamarine” - jazzy keyboards and swooping washes arcing over some furious drum machines.

For all the love of older times, his best material comes when he’s looking forward. “Ultramarine” starts off as a moody, minimal piece driven forward by the odd sampled vocal, progressively growing with some colour before flowering gloriously with the sort of signature melody that is at the heart of this album - simple, effective, glittering and memorable. Not many artists in this genre can produce ones that seem so effective yet simple. That talent is evident again in the glorious “Rissotowe_4”, which artfully moves between introspective melancholia and dusky bacchanalia with assured ease. If James Stinson and Gerald Donald managed to capture the essence of subterranean ennui so magnificently with Drexciya, it’s not much to say that Cutler grasps this particularly specialised facet of uplifting dance music with the composure of an artist many years his senior. The formative influence of Boards of Canada, so evident on the cover, finally has its place on the last track “The Birds don’t fly this high”, closing proceedings in a pleasingly narcotic fashion.

“Emerald Fantasy Tracks” seems an apt title - as if Cutler himself accepts his formative influences and that this might be an album where he just produces music that he loves. After all, we can’t always sacrifice our love of making music to push innovation or the need to map out new ground. Sometimes artists just need to make music, whatever or however they feel. Whilst this album doesn’t break into new territory it does, in a evidently assured fashion, enshrine Cutler’s ability to make sanguine dance music with a signature that is very much his own.

Toby Frith

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