FaltyDL - "Gospel of Opal (feat. Anneka)" (You Stand Uncertain)
The depths on Drew Lustman’s second album, You Stand Uncertain, reflect the personal tribulations he had to endure to get there. The New Yorker better known as FaltyDL recently confessed he tries to shut himself off from the world when he’s making music, keen to get lost in a volatile love/hate musical relationship fueled by an obsession with early 1990s IDM, jungle and hardcore, and in this case, recent personal issues. Lustman was wandering through this territory long before he started gaining national attention and a deal with Planet Mu that led to 2009’s largely overlooked Love is a Liability, but the guidance of Planet Mu patriarch Mike Paradinas helped accelerate the development curve.
The sounds of Love is a Liability, a combination of skittering garage beats, deep bass woofs, and videogame synthesizers, compared favorably with likeminded artists across the Atlantic like Zomby, Skream or Ikonika. But it also didn’t sound like an album so much as a collection of tracks tied together by the incessant trip-ups of the beats. You could tell Lustman was going for singles and cherry-picked the best of the bunch, which to be fair, was a sterling collection of future bass tracks that didn’t get the attention it deserved.
That won’t be a problem with You Stand Uncertain, an album visualized by its creator as a full-length product right from the beginning. Everything from BPM to a more unified, consistent palette illuminates the subtleties of FaltyDL’s methods of construction and the way he processes sounds, the way he pieces and layers and juxtaposes his foundational elements. Those elements extend from late ‘80s rave and early ‘90s jungle through Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert and on into more recent mutations, such as the footwork he slipped in toward the end of last year’s XLR8R podcast.
You can hear it right from the start of “Gospel of Opal,” with deep house vocals courtesy of Anneka. The sultry swagger of this track is sort of a mission statement for the album at large, its percussion ricocheting about the speakers. Distant, slow-phased synths add an airy ambience, an ongoing sound that continues on “The Pacifist,” phasing in and out right through the end of the track. The rest of the album is dominated by the balance between busy percussion and featherweight melodies.
This includes a quick house piano riff on finale “Waited Patiently,” one of the few times Lustman’s synthesizers feel heavy or in any way “unclean,” buzzing at a low rumble to mark a different approach to the same light/heavy endpoint that illustrates how far he’s come both emotionally and musically in the last two years. With interest in Planet Mu revived recently thanks in part to the Bangs & Works compilation, FaltyDL carries on the torch. There is nothing uncertain about You Stand Uncertain -- this is one of the most assured albums of the year in any genre.