Thursday, 27 January 2011

RECOMMENDED: FaltyDL - Hip Love/Jamie XX Remix [Ramp]

It’s deceptively easy to get swept away in the constant barrage of new material coming from the post-garage/dubstep/UK-bass axis. Individual stand out pieces of music often end up fading into the background in favour of an unbroken mass of newness. The end result is a feeling of quantity over quality, or at the very least a serious case of split attention span. That feeling has escalated over the last couple of years as the scene’s increasingly gone global and split off into a thousand different strands. But once in a while something comes along that forces you to sit back and take stock for a little while, or holds your undivided love and attention for long enough to ignore the masses of sound streaming past on either side.

Drew Lustman’s music under his FaltyDL moniker is one of those rare things. Nothing he’s released thus far has fallen below the ‘utterly essential’ benchmark, largely because it so rarely stands still. Rather than remaining content to churn out 12” after 12” of re-arranged but essentially identical sounds, everything he’s put out so far - from the US/UK hybrid garage of Love Is A Liability to Endeavour’s restrained house experiments – has stood totally apart from its predecessors. In essence, Lustman is one of the very few musicians operating within this sphere that use their influences like gene pools to draw upon for individual flashes of inspiration, rather than allowing them to restrict the breadth of their ambitions.

That’s the reason he appears to be so strikingly original – with only a love of Luke Vibert and early breakcore binding everything together, his shifts between tempo passing those sounds through various different filters: house, garage, dubstep, electronica. ‘Regret’, his forthcoming contribution to Hotflush’s Back & 4th label compilation, is one of the most sophisticated examples of that approach so far. After allowing a bass-less breakbeat to gather momentum and intensity over a backdrop of swelling ambience, Lustman finally allows all it’s pent up tension to release in a deft two-step groove. It’s both utterly energizing and curiously relaxing, as though by suspending hyperspeed drums in mid-air he strips them of their grounded, floor-filling effect. It’s a similar trick to the one used by ambient junglists like LTJ Bukem and Source Direct - accelerating breakbeats to the point at which they’re faster than the body’s metabolism; when, as Simon Reynolds writes, “rhythm itself becomes a susurrating, soothing stream of ambience.”

And Lustman certainly deserves to be ranked at the same level as the pioneers. He’s not merely regurgitating his influences - he’s remoulding them into the shape of a unique and exciting cross-Atlantic narrative. His new single ‘Hip Love’ for Ramp (his last before fantastic new album You Stand Uncertain is released on Planet Mu) is ample evidence of that, as it’s probably his finest single track so far. Once again set around rapid-fire programmed beats that form a curiously downbeat backdrop, he playfully sets shards of brass and a yearning vocal sample to ricochet across its surface, occasionally colliding in glorious flashes of harmony. The end result is at once exhilarating and exhausting, and imbued with more emotion (both implicit and explicit) than almost anything yet to have emerged from the fray surrounding dubstep. Yeah, it’s that good.

On the flipside, Jamie XX’s remix would always have struggled to match the stunning original, and it’s to his credit that he doesn’t attempt to. Rather, he builds an entirely different sort of track around it base elements, a thick drumfunk that swings unsteadily back and forth before dropping to the floor. It’s a surprisingly unique take on bass-heavy floor music, and bodes well for his upcoming Gil Scott Heron remix album.

Words: Rory Gibb
Out: 28th February 2011

FaltyDL – Hip Love [Ramp]


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