Lone
Reality Testing


2.5
average

Review

by hyperi0n STAFF
June 13th, 2014 | 46 replies


Release Date: 06/17/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: More of the same.

UK electronic producer Matt Cutler, more widely recognized under his recording alias Lone, has made a career out of reviving old styles with new attitudes. Starting off as a rather unremarkable IDM act doing his best Boards of Canada impression, Lone’s discography has been a mishmash of established (and sometimes very dead) styles reimagined with a modern sheen that at this point has become a foundation for most of his revival efforts. After paying homage to the legendary 808 State and other early techno/house producers on Emerald Fantasy Tricks, Cutler turned his gaze towards the early 90’s electronic scene, focusing on the dated sounds of the techno/proto-IDM characteristic of acts like Orbital and Black Dog Productions. The result was 2012’s Galaxy Garden, a polished, modern revival of the whimsical, escapist sounds of the early 90’s UK electronic scene. And while Galaxy Garden was a relative success, it showcased a marked lack of maturation in Cutler’s sound. Even though Lone has always been a competent producer, most of the music he has produced up to this point sounds like little more than cheap knock-offs of the kinds of sounds he attempts to resurrect. The chilled out, relaxed vibe of most of his records is nice for a few songs, but it’s only so long before listening to pleasant music becomes pleasant background noise. Simply put, it lacks the depth and vitality of the music it takes inspiration from, and because Lone produces music that wears its influences so openly on its sleeves, it more often than not tends to lack any and all staying power.

Unfortunately, Lone’s 6th full-length and his second offering in 2014 (taking into account his contribution to the Bleep 10 compilation released earlier this year) is another tedious, unassuming foray into the world of Matt Cutler’s influences that never quite coalesces into what would constitute a unique, personal style. “I wanted to make an album that had both hip-hop and house beats, but that weren't completely different from each other, that shared the same sort of vibe.” Surprisingly, this is exactly what Reality Testing ends up sounding like, a mixed bag of house and hip-hop beats washed over by the characteristic inoffensive variations of different synths playing 7th chords that has been a mainstay of Lone’s sound since he started putting out music. Hip-hop has sort of always remained the spiritual heart of most electronic music, especially the kinds of styles Lone is interested in reviving, and after the exercise in instrumental hip-hop that was Ecstasy & Friends in 2009, it doesn’t seem too farfetched for hip-hop to become a grounding element in Lone’s aesthetic. Tracks like “2 is 8” (the best cut on the album) and “Meeker Warm Energy” are modern day odes to the kind of hip-hop sound that undoubtedly influenced many styles and acts that have since become integral parts of the electronic music world. However, many of these tracks, while containing an altered rhythmic backbone from what was presented on Galaxy Garden, very nearly reuse sounds and ideas from that album in most of the tracks synth textures and melodic arrangements.

Beneath this glossy outer sheen lies the major problem that pervades all of Lone’s music, and, in essence, the major problem with his newest effort; it is music that is so innocuous and pleasantly inoffensive that it fails to be anything other than face value. Reality Testing, while remaining much more grounded in its hip-hop influence, isn’t necessarily that far off from the kind of music Cutler has always made. The reused sounds and overreliance on the same compositional and modal techniques that have been mainstays in his aesthetic since the very beginning do nothing more than highlight the fact that there is an obtrusive lack to depth to any of the music contained on the album. It offers nothing more than twelve tracks of agreeable sounds and harmless beats, which is rendered even less effective by the glossy, modern sheen of digital synthesizers and VST’s that do this kind of revival attempt absolutely no favors at all. As far as engaging music that functions as anything other than pleasant background noise, Reality Testing falls completely flat, and ends up being yet another addition to Lone’s catalogue of music that’s almost impossible to get excited about. Besides the one or two standout tracks that are worth revisiting, Reality Testing is a timid, harmless exercise in jumbled influence and pleasant sounds that fail to be anything other than mildly amusing.




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user ratings (25)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2014


18519 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

you can stream the whole album here: https://soundcloud.com/thump/sets/lone-reality-testing-lp

Digging: Objekt - Flatland

Wadlez
June 13th 2014


4159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really hope it is better than your opinion of it.

Digging: Akira Yamaoka - Silent Hill 2

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2014


18519 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ive never really been impressed with this guy. ive heard galaxy garden a bunch of times and still dont remember a single track from it. that being said, when he released the 2 is 8 in advance i was excited, it sounded pretty different and possibly awesome

turns out that was by far the best track on the album unfortunately.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2014


31215 Comments


I dig this, but it's by no means his best work

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2014


18519 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

my favorite from him by far is emerald fantasy tricks

everything else is pretty disposable honestly

MaskAtTheMasquerade
June 13th 2014


2887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

im a sucker for this dude's work but this was kind of underwhelming. i'm used to the Lone formula and really have no problem with him not switching things up too much (although a new approach for the next album probably wouldn't be a bad idea) but this just didn't stick as much his previous releases.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
June 13th 2014


13236 Comments


lemurian was badass

i refuse to believe this is average before i get a good jam in

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Rev
June 13th 2014


9428 Comments


i'm a fan of emerald fantasy tracks and ecstasy and friends, but the rest of his discog has been pretty miss with me (don't get the hype for lemurian)


that said, galaxy garden made for great mario kart music

Funeralopolis
June 13th 2014


11408 Comments


Never got the hype around this guy nothing he does is good

Digging: Black Milk - No Poison No Paradise

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 14th 2014


7026 Comments


cool cover art

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 14th 2014


31215 Comments


It's got nothing on the art for Galaxy Garden though

http://www.randsrecords.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/RS1206CD-packshot.jpg

RogueNine
June 14th 2014


1310 Comments


Ok yeah, that art wins.

MaskAtTheMasquerade
June 14th 2014


2887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

konx om pax ftw

PappyMason
June 14th 2014


893 Comments


Nice review.

Galaxy Garden was kinda cool but it didn't really grab me.


Digging: Susumu Yokota - Sakura

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
June 14th 2014


7124 Comments


Nice this was a little disappointing for me but I definitely like it more than you. Nice to see a review for it though.

aok
June 14th 2014


4433 Comments


Cutler's remix of radiohead's feral was ace. Lemurian's also prey solid

LordePots
June 14th 2014


6889 Comments


guy will never release anything that stands up to ultramarine

Digging: Daisuke Tanabe - Flowers On A Wall

sportsboy
June 15th 2014


640 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ouch, i would give lone more credit than this, such a great artist

Digging: Oneohtrix Point Never - Rifts

jtswope
June 15th 2014


2204 Comments


I really want this to rule but either way Lone still has some great albums under his belt.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
June 15th 2014


18519 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

guy will never release anything that stands up to ultramarine


i would probably agree with this



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