Monday, February 4, 2013

Album Review: FaltyDL - Hardcourage

Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

New York based producer FaltyDL (Drew Lustman) has released two albums that have been quite all over the place, darting in and out of deep house, UK garage and two-step, dub and techno, and tons of other genres falling within the large sphere of UK bass music. His background in jazz also contributed to a very restless, improvisational feel to his records, which sometimes ended up making them seem directionless and without much direct purpose. This lack of direction was most apparent on his debut album Love Is A Liability and was tempered somewhat on You Stand Uncertain, but the changes were so subtle and gradual it really wasn't a striking difference. With last year's EP Atlantis and now his third album Harcourage, he seems far more confident in his sound and direction, and while it is not quite a defining statement for the producer, it is by far his strongest and most satisfying records.

In fact, for almost the first half of the record, Lustman hits everything on all cylinders, showing remarkable flexibility and control with his sound. Opening track "Stay I'm Changed" plays with a myriad of different sounds, deep bass, synth stabs, ambient drones, playful electronic rolls, before claiming all the sounds together into a swirling dance mix.

"Straight & Arrow" delights in its two-step beat, jazzy keyboard motifs, and broken soul samples,

while "Uncea" and "For Karme" provide dense tableaux's of intricately produced electronica.

He even shows a nice hold on the pop landscape, a la his track with Lily McKenzie "Gospel of Opal" on You Stand Uncertain, with his collaboration with Friendly Fire's Ed Macfarlane on the dreamy and lush "She Sleeps."

When I am just thinking this could be his masterpiece, things go a little slack in the mid-section of the record. "Finally Some Shit/The Rain Stopped" gets stuck in a repetitive groove that never really morphs into anything substantial while "Kenny Rolls One" gets lost in a blurping haze of funk synths and acid haze sound effects. While not completely derailing things, it definitely is a slight road bump on an otherwise pleasant journey. Thankfully he gets back on the right track with the percussion heavy techno track "Korben Dallas,"

"Reassimilate" is a perfunctory downtempo track that segues nicely into closing track "Bells" which basically encapsulates the entire album, merging all his disparate strands into one seamless flow.

While Hardcourage has a disappointing middle section that sucks some life out of the flow of the record, it goes a long way into streamlining Lustman's restless creativity into someone more cohesive and direct. With a little more polish and direction, there is certainly a classic record waiting in the wings.

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