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WPGM Recommends: Lone – Levitate (Album Review)

Lone Levitate
After 2014’s smash that was Reality Testing, Lone (aka Matt Cutler) is back again with his next installment of new music. Originally hailing from Nottingham, the London-based electronic producer gave himself big boots to fill in this latest release.

Cutler began his musical career as Lone after the dissolution of his two piece electronic band, Kids In Tracksuits with Andy Hemsley. His music spans many genres, from instrumental Hip Hop to IDM and hardcore. At 33 minutes, the album is relatively short but there is so much packed in, it doesn’t need to be any longer and is the perfect length to listen on the daily commute!

Galaxy Garden, released in 2012 on R&S records really brought him to the fore and flagged him as one to watch as a tastemaker in left field music production. He then went on to find more mainstream success upon the release of “Airglow Fires” in 2013. This song became an instant classic and further consolidated his place as one of the most exciting people in the music industry.

Lone’s music has been sampled by American rapper Azealia Banks: Banks rapped over “Pineapple Crush” which became “Liquorice” on her 1991 EP; “Aquamarine” was also used for her “Count Contessa” track on the Fantasea Mixtape. Not only has the American given Lone some great exposure, but the pair have collaborated more formally – Cutler produced the two sister tracks “Miss Amor” and “Miss Cameraderie” on her 2014 album Broke With Expensive Taste.

Drawing from aspects of 90s rave culture, we are often taken back in time with Cutler’s output. Not only are we transported to another era, but we’re transported to another world. One characteristic that permeates a lot of Cutler’s music is its sense of other-worldliness.

What is great is that it really feels authentic – not cliched and we can genuinely feel Cutler’s love and connection with this era and the music is produced. When we listen to songs like “Begin To Begin” or “Jaded” from Reality Testing, the use of synthesized xylophones, laid back hip-hop grooves and unusual samples, we can easily imagine ourselves exploring some newfound mystery galaxy far, far away!

The release of Levitate sees Cutler indulging in his love for the hardcore and breakbeat genres of the early 1990s. Opening tracks “Alpha Wheel” and “Backtail Was Heavy” throw us straight into this, with their chaotic and abrasive breakbeats firmly nodding to the hardcore that we know Cutler loves. “Backtail Was Heavy” is much more aggressive in its production; the drums are harder, faster and stronger and the synths are progressively pitched higher throughout the track which only builds the anticipation and makes us want to hear more.

These wouldn’t be out of place at an illegal rave somewhere on the M25, nor would they be in a club or festival. To stay true to the 90s theme, “Backtail Was Heavy” was actually given a preview release via a rave hotline back in April. All you had to do was call the number 02031090583 to hear the track… something I’m sure you 90s ravers were used to doing to hear the latest releases from your favourites long before the internet and the explosion of social media we are used to today!

Just as soon as we adjusted to the manic, fast pace of the album, Cutler throws in a curveball, which is “The Morning Song”. This is the antithesis of the previous two tracks and embodies the kind of sounds we would want to hear after a night of raving to the two previous songs. It provides momentary respite with its landscape of natural and open sounds. But we can’t get too comfortable, because we are thrust right back into some classic Lone which is “Vapour Trail”.

This track is slightly Bmore/Baltimore Club Music in genre – a subsidiary genre that is still under the breakbeat umbrella that developed out of Baltimore in the 1980s which uniquely blended staccato house music with hip hop. Similarly, “Triple Helix” is just as frantic and chaotic as the last and we can really tell that Cutler decided to take a conscious step towards the hardcore and breakbeat style for this project.

It seems to be a recurring theme throughout the album to intersperse these full on tracks with some much more low key production. Similarly to “The Morning Song”, “Breeze Out” makes use of airy synths as well as sampling running water and what appears to be a speech/snippet of dialogue. These tracks work really well to balance the album out and show that Cutler isn’t a one trick pony. They could easily be played in a coffee shop or reception waiting room as they are the perfect mix of intriguing and unobtrusive.

The final three songs on this album also take on this calmer approach. It’s as if Cutler was guiding us through a typical raving experience which is governed by the ordering of each song. We were thrown right into the thick of it at the start, with a moment of respite before being again, only to be surrounded by chaos and movement again as the album was brought to a climax. We were then guided towards the end of the night by more calming songs that showcased Cutler’s musical ability to craft elegant music with great finesse.

Cutler has a unique sound which is definitely present throughout the whole album and it’s what makes him such a stand out producer. If you’re a fan of Rustie and the rest of Glasgow’s Numbers label, this album will definitely appeal do you. Lone’s Levitate is out now via R&S Records, purchase it on Bandcamp here.

Words by Mica Anthony

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