Lapalux ‘Nostalchic’ Brainfeeder | Album Review
Essex’s Lapalux has become a very special addition to Los Angeles based multi-media creative center Brainfeeder over the last 2 years. The young visionary has been releasing EP’s since 2011, working with Pictures Music on his first proper label project and moving to the Brainfeeder imprint a year later in 2012. When You’re Gone and Some Other Time were the results of his shift to Brainfeeder and the anticipation for his first full length has been riding high since these EP’s. Blending production techniques in IDM, R&B, downtempo and hip hop, his music is bass heavy yet sleek, intoxicating yet powerfully distinguished. Around every corner in his productions and there is new life waiting to hatch, full of the most surprising dynamic. There is also a dimness and haze that cloaks itself over many of the layers, creating phantom like imagery in the background that results in one of the most surrealistic forms of mainstream electronica. Details are always served in abundance and the duality between extreme ends in the nucleus of the Lapalux sound is an enchanting and captivating side to modern beat culture.
Not even half a year after his last EP was dropped and Lapalux has unleashed his debut full length album Nostalchic. It’s an exceptional entry into 21st century art with features from previous collaborator Kerry Leatham, One Little Indian recording artist Astrid Williamson and Jenna Andrews. Every song is beaming with radiant energy and has tones spiral in every direction without linear rigid qualities, setting the scene for human expression in all its glory through sound in a way that touches on so many different timbres, keys, tones and emotions. Progressive electronic music that is incomparable yet is so captivating and fascinating on first acquaintance. The engineering work on Nostalchic is the final enhancement that makes the music have such a memorable resonance. Large fields of space are appropriated for various instrumental and vocal layering to ominous affect. The hazy coalescing layers are bridged in relationships, showering in a glowing aura to the well grafted themes, tasteful melodies and superb overall structures of each piece.
With the album opener “IAMSYS”, a small passage of analog tape is winded into speed for a very different introduction into the record. I feel like I am sitting down in a comfortable chair and Lapalux has just put his tape reels for Nostalchic on a magnetophon. Many of the layers are sent into a euphoric state of analog driven saturated tones that float with a calmness. This tranquility is mood changing once union occurs between the audio being projected outward and the listener. In the opening measures of “IAMSYS”, the analog tape speed manipulation cuts out the track for a split second and pulls everything back in tightly for the introduction of the drums and its full articulation. It’s a stunning emotional tug and pull that is a perfect attention grabbing production technique for the intro. The beat is powerful and pristine, dynamically resting for heavy doses of sound crafting. The synth layering has a sentimental, delicate and nostalgic feel, softly landing into the mix like snow in a deep storm. The presence of effects fastened to the vocals allows an even more special glow in the mix to appear. Many of the vocal inflections are untraceable, leaving the moments when I hear the phrase “And It all makes sense…” resonate with amplitudes of force. Not even five minutes into the album and I am feeling enamored with every tone, texture and rhythm I am hearing. The warmth and glow is a beautiful beginning to Nostalchic and is a distinctive tone setting that holds true from beginning to the end.
“Guuurl” is the second track and is steeped in a heavy influence of R&B. Linear synth lines, sultry vocal work and the nostalgic haze of the Lapalux sound; the rhythms are perfectly interwoven with rest points attributed like the albums opener. Every moment when the drums reprise, a jolt of energy is sent straight into the sky. “Guuurl” has a sensuous vibe that really picks up the energy of the album. “Kelly Brook” begins with a pastoral and experimental segment, conjoining haunting tones of synth with minimally eccentric overtones trailing. Built on a very slow tempo and a heavy synth lead, the drums and highly effected vocals create a kaleidoscopic field where patterns, shapes and structures unfold and contort by the measure. It’s a brilliant deviation to anything out, creating an entirely new and original sound. Lapalux introduces his first guest inclusion of the album with the next track “One Thing”, featuring vocalist Jenna Andrews. As a much more straight forward R&B influenced piece of work on Nostalchic, Lapalux still finds a way to express his vividly potent sonic imagination over the emotionally revealing lyrics of Jenna. The bass rides deep into this cut as synth travels upward and downward over one another and the smooth nature of the album takes a valiant stand. Jenna Andrews has a powerful vocal presentation, floating in-between climaxes and restful states of bliss inside of almost every vocal line. Her ability to interact with many of the rising and falling synth layers is a mind blowing gift to the album.
“Flower” results in one of the most mind bending rhythm sections. The opening minute is proportioned out for another hazy and glowing pretext to the cyclone of vocal layering, synth and rhythm emergence that defines the core of the song. There is a very translucent sound present in the intro where it feels as if one could openly put their hand through each layer as if it were light projections or smoke. “Swallowing Smoke” is the first track on the album where the energy is blasted out immediately from the gates. After the large sound of the beginning subsides, a dreamy gentle electro beat surfaces for an entirely new direction in the album. The track has a very infectious sound that just draws me in and pushes me out of my seat every time. The same percussion drop outs are present in this song like the previous tracks before it, ushering in a wide range for the synth to transform and flourish through. The second guest vocalist to appear on the album is Kerry Leatham for the piece “Without You”. The drums and synth are very minimal, relying on singular synth lines and the vocal presence of Kerry for a majority of the songs identity. Beautiful textures are abound and it’s the song that I find myself most relaxed with while hearing Nostalchic.
My favorite track is the albums next number, “Straight Over My Head”. The beginning measures are highly celestial, geared towards the enlightened realms of the albums character. The bass is immaculate and holds down a resonance with the organic sounding percussion and drums that is sublime. Vocals are sampled and chopped up for a recycled affect that is a much needed sonic enhancement over the dense body of sound under it. The energy is blasted into another dimension once the synth is unhinged to its fullest potential. The sense of duality is strong where a somber and gentle underside is pinned down by the weight of this new synth addition. The music breathes in systematic form, the characteristic element to the way Lapalux produces music in which gives every song something to really voyage through as drums fall out and jolt back in. “Dance” features the third guest on the album “Astrid Williamson” and is another effects laced vocal track that conveys some very new sonic territory for electronica. The vocals are processed with effects and pushed into various tempo speeds. The synth is very organic and alive while the drum patterns are very linear. About halfway into the song and the vocals are layered over with a backwards section of vocals. It has a very surreal base to it, creating one of the most abstract pieces on the album.
The spiritual aura of the album is brought back in full light with “The Dead Sea”, a slow burning and synth heavy track that has a stand out solo moment for the ending measures. Tape manipulation brings the song forth in a somewhat scattered fashion as layers spiral in every direction. It sounds more like a tape collage session then a composed song, adding to the variety of structures that the album gives. The first moments of drum only last a few bars, cascading back into a plethora of sonic textures. The music becomes enlarged after this moment and a spacious aura starts to open up. The second section of drums is more centered and concretely based. The synth solo that ensues in this new section sounds like a sax going off and is one of my favorite moments on the entire LP. The overtones behind the solo are the defining factor, bringing in a blend of flavors that feels incredible on contact. “Walking Words” is the shortest track on the LP and is the track that makes me dance the most. A very strong keyboard line is planted from the beginning with minimal drums that transitions the mix into its fullest state of bass, vocals and synth layering. The albums closer “O E A” features Kerry Leatham for a second time and is the most unique song on the record. Acoustic guitar and vocal accompaniment from Kerry introduces the song while a sparkling field of noise shortly follows behind. This decay of sound is presented solo for a small moment that in turn allows for the main sequence of the electro heavy rhythms to expand. The ending moments that have very minimal percussion are the most sublime, especially as the hazy effects processed vocals interact with the deep swells of synth. It ends the album with beauty through rhythms and tones that only the mind of Lapalux can create.
Every moment on Nostalchic hits my senses with abstract electronic beauty and has become an album I can’t put down. Nothing feels stagnant or wasted, sprouting out an enigma of true beauty that has infinite definitions to its whole. It’s a true modern masterpiece in our eyes and we cherish this kind of sonic experience with an open mind. Lapalux has created yet another striking statement of human emotion through music with Nostalchic.
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Taken from Lapalux’s debut album ‘Nostalchic’ – released 26 March worldwide on Brainfeeder.
Vinyl / CD / Digital:
Directed by Nick Ray Rutter in collaboration with Lapalux
Starring: Natalia Tena
(From the band Molotov Jukebox)
Director: Nick Rutter
Producer: Jude Vermeulen
Production Designer: Tim Belcher
Director of Photography: Ben Fordesman
1st AD: Dean Noutsos
2nd AD: Boris Becker
Production Company: Sonny
Production Assistant: Helen Galliano
Production Assistant: Andrea Pejovski
Runner: Conor Walsh
Props Maker: Brian Archer
Props Assistant: Dimitri Launder
Focus Puller: Ahmet Husseyin
Focus Puller: Dave Agha-Rafei
2nd AC: Mitch Collins
DIT: Chris Belcher
Gaffer: Nathan Porter
Electrician: Pawel Polak
Electrician: Nic Britt
Costume Designer: Rebecca Hale
Costume: Marine Crosta & Ophelie
Hair & Make Up: Sophie Cavanagh
Editor: Patric Ryan @ Marshall Street
Flame: Chris Scott @ The Mill
Colorist TK: Luke Morrison @ The Mill
Sound Design: Jamielisa Jacquemin @ Redwood Studios
Label /Commissioner: Maddy Salvage @ Ninja Tune / Brainfeeder
Co-commissioned by Stuart Howard and Alex Clapworthy
Thanks to Movietech, Panalux, the Liberal Club, Phoebe Mitchell, Matt Chlebek and Myles Mears.