Lone has already been through several aesthetic evolutions. Shifting from the down-tempo electronics of 2008’s ‘Lemurian’ to the rave assault that was 2012’s ‘Galaxy Garden’ (review), Matt Cutler has continually attempted to move forwards.
‘Reality Testing’ though, finds the producer attempting something even more daring. Absorbing hip-hop tropes, Lone makes a break from his electronic pigeonhole - with varying results.
Lead cut ‘2 Is 8’ (audio below) shuffles and grinds with the best of them, recalling The Jungle Brothers’ attempts to unify rap and house. Demonstrating considerable rhythmic flair, Lone retains his subtle use of texture.
Indeed, it’s these textures that provide ‘Reality Testing’ with its colour. ‘Aurora Northern Quarter’ is a hymn to his adopted Manchester hometown, recalling a fateful night-walk home from a ’92 Hacienda session.
Yet the reality is that it’s not quite as testing as it could be. Caught between two poles, the album often feels as though it is torn between parallel intentions. Though beautiful, much here doesn’t feel vital, and doesn’t quite inspire in the manner that much of ‘Galaxy Garden’ did.
There’s a lack of precision, with a flabby middle section finding ‘Begin To Begin’, for example, looping aimlessly. Yet when it hits home, ‘Reality Testing’ more than justifies Lone’s tag as one of the most flexible, dextrous producers in the game.
Words: Robin Murray
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