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Lone - Ecstasy & Friends

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Artist: Lone

Album: Ecstasy & Friends

Label: Werk

Review date: Jan. 13, 2010

For his Werk records debut, Matt "Lone" Cutler mines terrain similar to label-mate Zomby, albeit toward markedly different ends. While Zomby’s roundly-discussed Where Were U in 92 notably recreates the rushing bustle of rave music, reportedly relying on now obsolete technology for full period effect, Lone’s Ecstasy and Friends isn’t concerned with the sound of rave music as much as the sensations associated with it: a loved-up, numinous radiance. In fact, Lone’s sound is far closer to the glutinous, blunted shuffle-step of Flying Lotus or even Dam-Funk’s zonked cyborg grooves.

That said, Lone appears to be the next stop on a downstream flow of influence that emanates from masters of spooky pastoral glitch Boards of Canada. As BoC championed Bibio, whose Warp debut Ambivalence Avenue offered a grab bag of faintly sketched songs, crackle-pop rhythms and wistful moods more eclectic than any BoC record, all the while evoking their out-in-the-country solitude and lens flare wistfulness, so Bibio has hailed Lone’s 2008 effort, Lemurian. But compared to both BoC and Bibio, Lone’s got a serious sweet-tooth.

Opener "To Be with a Person That You Really Dig" is pink champagne and white chocolate. Think "Diamond and Pearls" played by a woozy wedding band—opulent piano tinkles, fussily melodious bass lines and feathery lady coos. But that’s nothing compared to "Arcade," which, true to its title, sounds like the gaudy theme song for the most garish 16-bit video coin-op never created. "Waves Imagination" comes closest to BoC’s weathered footage. A golden sunset bleeds in a lo-res blur, cowbells thwack, a guitar dapples toffee notes, and a new genre is minted: wonky Balearic soft rock.

But I prefer Lone when he’s not piling on the neon-colored icing and basking in overripe production. "The Twilight Switch" drops the clotted beats and saturated cheez. Instead, Lone focuses on what he does best: stitching seamless loops of lush, seesawing tones. All swirl and no snap, it’s a séance of discombobulated harp and synth spirits.

This flash of Ghost Box etherea aside, there is something ultimately displeasing about Ecstasy & Friends. Much like heavily-processed, oleaginous foods, its bursts of vivid, insta-flavor don’t make for satiation.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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