Lapalux - Nostalchic Album Review
Essex-born producer Lapalux, born Stuart Howard, first gained notoriety only last year with the release of his two debut EPs When You're Gone and Some Other Time, and over the course of his three releases, it is clear that as a musician Howard is not afraid to push himself and branch out on his musical horizons. Whilst both of last year's releases had a distinctly pop-like structure to them, one that was rendered almost unidentifiable by Howard's extensive layering of various bleeps, clicks and samples, this time round his songs are a little more difficult to identify as the producer attempts to push his listeners further.
It is this experimental eclecticism that makes Lapalux such a good suit for the Brainfeeder label and you can tell that Brainfeeder's boss man Flying Lotus had a big hand in pushing the UK producer more leftfield. Album opener 'IAMSYS' sounds distinctly like FlyLo's own track 'Mmmhmm' and as the album progresses you can still pick up similarities between the album and some of FlyLo's more dreamy numbers. Still, Nostalchic is hardly a Brainfeeder tribute album as Howard often follows his own direction to conjure up something that belongs to him. What has resulted from this personal journey is an album that has been painstakingly pieced together, sample by sample, each miniature beep matching up with it's closest compatriot collection of songs that have that kind of Avalanches feel to them - it's as if he was given a large box full of various sounds and samples and pieced them together to make something that work. It doesn't matter whether he has to re-use the same piece more than once; so long as the finish product is worth it then his job is done.
Still, the album does have its weak moments, in particular on 'Kelly Brook' - a song that grinds and grunts in such an agonising fashion it renders the song almost unlistenable. It's so dense and confused and coming in so early on the album that you do have to take into consideration whether it's actually worth it carrying on with the rest of the album. Luckily though, this is the only real major misstep as Howard manages to reign in the rest of his hyperactive samples and keyboard tweaks for the rest of the album. His collaborative efforts are actually some of his finest productions on the album, particularly the Kerry Leatham featuring 'Without You.' What makes it such a standout track is the wraithlike tone that contrasts so well with the rest of the album's hyperactivity. Whilst the rest of the album has an otherworldly, outer space feel to it, 'Without You' is much closer to home and, despite it's relatively dark composure, it still manages to retain an element of warmth that some of his more upbeat songs seem to miss.
Maybe it's Howard's exceptional ear, organising and controlling the various densely populated layers to the songs on the album that prevent it from being a really immersive and rewarding listen. No song really stands on its own, bar a few moments midway through the album and on the single 'Guurl', and whilst the album may be full of great ideas and, on a whole it sounds good, it feels a little too vain to make it really standout.
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