Review Summary: And yet even surrounded in the shadows of skyscrapers comes something that dreams of open skies
Rewind the clocks back fifteen years or so and the electronic dance world was a completely different story compared to the club riots of today. Did you know, dear reader, that there used to be albums
literally every week, from artists as diverse as The Chemical Brothers, The Orb, Underworld and Klute? We weren't subjected to the likes of 12' releases, double A-sides and a constant stream of EPs, because that's never what we wanted. And the reason being is that club music has literally exploded, you can't walk around the block without being exposed to its inviting tones blasting forth from some desperate to be accepted coffee shop. People want anthems, bangers, they want the quick hit. They don't want albums, because the average dance enthusiast has the attention span of an addict. It's all immediate release, it's getting off to that one shiny track. And it's a little sad that we now refer to the likes of The Chemical Brothers as retro simply because they happened to be blowing down the doors of what electronic music could potentially be back before half of you lot were out of diapers. Before Fabric we had Gatecrasher, before the likes of Will.I.Am found another avenue with which to annoy people we had simply the artist, because we didn't need words. They were a deterrent, just like all the hypemen who hop on top of speakers and spit forth random obscurities over the music. We came for the music, we didn't pay to hear some obnoxious fool with his baseball cap perfectly tilted 25 degrees to the left telling us to move, we showed up specifically to do just that. But thankfully those days, though a distant memory, haven't completely disappeared into the time capsule just yet. Someone still intent on actually utilizing the unifying concept of an electronic album
still has the common sense and the good graces to do just that. And his name is Drew Lustman, better known to the world as FaltyDL.
While some of us may seem a little lost with today's current over-saturation of the “one big hit” quickly followed by “little else”, Lustman has the map to set us back on our path. Falty crafts cheekily simple, yet frustratingly complex tunes that latch onto a myriad of ideas and yet remain at the end of the day, effortlessly Falty. He hitches a ride through the recently revived corpse of garage, picks up hip hop and house along the way, and ties it all down with a dubstep fluency. His beats are flirty, constantly shifting from more kaleidoscopic bounciness to intricate drops of bass drenched intensity. That's the technical way of describing it, to define them would be to say that he's crafted an album full of sun drunk and woozy 2 step that staggers and teeters on its now unreliable legs, constantly losing their train of thought (as most alcoholics tend to do when in the grips of their addiction) and drifting off into jazzy and melodic soundscapes. And this isn't a casual “throw it in when he pleases” deal either, these are the guidelines that FaltyDL has adhered to. It becomes apparent almost instantly with the album opener, 'Gospel Of Opal'. As that bass lazily pulses and spits in the background, you can hear that almost tropic ambiance shimmering through, this engaging spaced out melody just casually floating above the the bubbling 2 step foundation.
This dirty nightclub meets hazy beaches sound has become a staple of Falty's, and he handles the jarring contrast with such simplicity that belies his native NY roots. But this removal from the scene works to his advantage, that observer looking in and taking notes kind of deal. As such, he's managed to avoid being caught up in the hype that surrounds every new release from his peers simply because he's not there to be swept up in it. These playful and sun tinged nuances that he drenches every track in are so delightful, because you don't expect it, and it's a surprise to actually hear something that sounds this, dare I say, refreshing? There's this constantly mutating imagery that forms with every track here, this hazy and shimmering journey to white beaches and blue skies. Which is interesting, given the Drew's surroundings of taxis, a skyline that threatens to block out the sun, and the constant hum of a city that refuses to quieten down. A calm yet pensive playfulness lies in every track, like on 'Brazil' which ties itself to its namesake, with guest vocalist Lily Mackenzie (on loan from FunkyStepz) joyfully contributing a lounge-like softness to the already dizzying serendipity of the track.
Guest vocalists are a rare commodity for Falty, he's stayed away from them before simply because he's never needed them. His music has always spoken for itself, and when needed he's simply applied the now typical and archetypal breathless samples to hammer any points home. But they work so efficiently here, they're so charmingly effective because they only add to this “dj on holiday” approach that the whole album has going for it. Everything is so laid back, so drenched in relaxation that you want to tap your feet, but from the comfort of a deck chair perfectly positioned on an endless beach in the middle of nowhere. So it comes as something of a shock then when 'Lucky Luciano' comes blasting out, complete with its early 90's breakbeat hardcore leanings and dirty rave synths. The track is a maze of percussion, the constantly on edge backbeats tumbling back and forth just to remain upright, the chunky and at times clunky clicks and clacks creating a dense and jittery wall of resistance that wouldn't sound out of place distorting the paint on the walls of some dusty old warehouse somewhere, re-jigged rave for the new millennium masses.
It's truly been a long time in the game since such a unifying “dance” album has existed that didn't try to spread itself so thin. Every track follows this blissfully sweet blueprint of slow emergence and sunshine brilliance that you can't help but place yourself away from your surroundings and wallow in the fact that where you are no one else can follow. Which is why Lustman's distance from the current garage revivalist scene has ultimately worked to his advantage. You won't find this kind of shimmering saturation in anything from the U.K. At the moment Pariah comes close, but he's too caught up in a lustful harboring of everything idm. FaltyDL has, to his and our benefit, turned down that need to be overwhelmingly heavy with his beats, and just left the music to fend for itself without any unneeded trivialities to potentially compromise it. Even when that deliriously retro lockstep emerges in 'Tell Them Stories' it serves as nothing more than a marker than a landmark. He relies on the wonky and distorting keys and synths to work their magic, because this isn't club music for clubbers. It's music for open spaces, for blue skies and no roads. It's FaltyDL looking forward while holding onto the past. This is an album to cherish in a scene so ripe with a need for dirt and pummel, grime and drops. It's a deeply personal electronic album (if such a thing could ever exist) because it gives you a clear sense of the artist's inspirations, loves, and how he actually crafts his music. He isn't hiding behind the decks in a darkened corner somewhere, you actually feel like you're right in the room with him, watching each cut slowly come together. Do yourself a favor and fall in love with this album.