Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Lone - Reality Testing Review

Though dance music is arguably the biggest genre in mainstream music today, I feel that many people my age are still fairly unaware of the diversity and rich history of dance music. I believe the mostly 'dumbed-down' dance music found at the top of the charts, predominately by bland and faceless eurotrash DJs don't represent the excellent dance sub-genres including house, techno, drum & base, trance and new wave, to name a few. This coupled with the surge in accessible electronic sounds due to the prominence of artists such as James Blake and Burial can make it all a bit confusing to many. Enter Matt Cutler, a Nottingham-based electronic producer who crafts rich, atmospheric and very dance-able electronica, infused with a variety of different sub-genres whilst also creating something completely fresh.

Opening track 'First Born Seconds' sets the tone perfectly, with euphoric synths and heavenly chimes it acts as a musical breath of fresh air, giving way for the heavier tracks to come. What I feel sets Reality Testing apart from other electronic dance records is Lone's incredible outros which allow the tracks to flow seamlessly into one another, making the whole album an experience. However there are still plenty individual standout moments such as the thumping italo house chords on the track 'Aurora Northern Quarter' or the euphoric hip-hop infused '2 is 8'. Though none of the tracks feature singing, at no point does Reality Testing feel repetitive or as if Lone is running out of ideas. He uses a mesh of samples throughout the record which weave seamlessly into the narrative, take the track '2 is 8', for example, the samples of laughter bring an element of fun and naivety to the care-free summer-y vibes of the track whilst on 'Stuck', the production asks as a backdrop to the vocal sample. 'Cutched Under', the closing track, ends the record with a subtle sensuality with neo-soul recalling bassline and more colourful beats over the top and ensures the album goes out with a bang.

There is an immense confidence felt throughout this record, a self-assurance in Matt Cutler's flawless production which makes Reality Testing feel more entrancing and engaging than your average electronic record. Not since Jon Hopkin's astonishing Mercury-nominated Immunity have I felt such warmth and depth from an electronic record. With Reality Testing there is a real sense of balance between paying tribute to older scenes such as Detroit techno and Chicago House and innovating new sounds. As a result I feel this record will stand the test of time, to the extent where it already feels somewhat of a classic, to me anyway. Hopefully between this and the popularity of acts such as Disclosure and Julio Bashmore, mainstream dance will regain its credibility once again. 


Best Tracks: Restless City, Meeker Warmer Energy, Aurora Northern Quarter, 2 is 8, Jaded, Cutched Under

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