Lapalux - Lustmore
by Jack Reid
For the epitome of Lapalux’s full and ethereal sound, see his collaboration with Kerry Leatham, Without You. In an interview, the producer (Stuart Howard) said that when he’s confronted with problems in life, he goes to his room to make some music. It’s a pretty common thing to come out of a musician’s mouth, but I think that it’s particularly salient in Lapalux’s case. Without being completely alien, like something Aphex Twin would produce, Lapalux’s sound is somehow not of this world - but without losing an incredibly strong emotional thread. There’s simultaneously something emotionally familiar and sonically novel about Lapalux, and that’s showed off to perfection in that Kerry Leatham collaboration.
After the stunning long-play debut Nostalgic, it was always going to be a pretty tough act to follow for this Essex bedroom sound smith. Nevertheless, here we are with Lustmore - the anticipated and ever-feared sophomore effort. Something that’s evident about the release right away is that Howard hasn’t stopped his endless experimentation with new sounds. On Why Did You Lie there’s a distinctly French retro bass line wouldn’t be out of place in a Kavinsky track, something that is skilfully blended in with that consistently dreamy timbre that permeates the whole album. On the same track, snatches of pathos-laden vocals get bent every which way to in turn pull on the heart strings on the listener without any real idea of what is being said, lyrically speaking.
There are some gloriously tripped out hip-hop beats on this album. On We Lost in particular, the beat stumbles on with a similar swagger to a Shlohmo track, but with a less muddy sound, maybe something closer to a Kaytranada beat. Either way, it complements those yearning vocals that sound a hell of a lot like Frankmusik at the end of far-too-long night. The aptly-named Bud has that similar sort of shimmery smoked out sound, the kind that is best enjoyed when played out to a strung out bunch of people on a half-empty dance floor that refuse to go home. That’s not to say its party repellent, it’s just got that shuffley, lackadaisical mood. It’s that filtered down sounds of a rave that Burial talks about in one of the only interviews he’s ever given that is present here, especially in Don’t Mean A Thing. Those heightened vocals sound haunting when they’re ripped out of context and given room to resonate. Then there’s the addictive bobbing synth line…
For me, the vocal features on this release aren’t the standout. Even Szjerdene, who has done so much strong work with Bonobo in the past, fails to produce a compelling collaboration. Her voice is so clear that it clashes a little with the mist and mud you need from the Lapalux sound. U Never Know ft. Andreya Tiana is one of those introductory tracks that doesn’t make a big enough statement or really set much of an atmosphere for the rest of the release - it just sort of meanders around. Instead, it’s tracks like 1004 that make this album a pleasure. These instrumental pieces with vocal snippets used more like synth toys that threads defining the track - they’re what it’s all about.
This album takes a little while to get off the ground, and it’s probably a grower for most people. Then again, the inherent laziness of Lapalux’s sound encourages that kind of repeated listening, letting yourself steep in the sounds. There are some real gems on here, and they aren’t the collaboration tracks that would usually leap out at you. This is an album to plug into when you’re well past tired, and it’ll take you somewhere totally different.