Last we heard from Stuart Howard – last April’s fantastic ‘Many Face Out Of Focus’ EP – the Essex-based producer was carefully honing his blurred, distant and sonically rich beat style for Pictures Music. In the intervening months, Howard has seen his Lapalux project take flight, touching down in the far-flung yet none-more-appropriate LA home of the infamous Brainfeeder label. Surrounded by like-minded souls and healthy sources of influence, Howard’s first release for the imprint, the seven-track-strong ‘When You’re Gone’ EP, is an impressive way to make an introduction.
Opener ‘102 of Introduction’ has more than a hint of the crackle and jerk of its Brainfeeder home, soft keys and Howard’s own strained vocals joined by a mesh of jazz samples, while vocalist PY’s contributions to ‘Moments’ begin as the track’s focus, before getting chewed up and spat out by the skittering, erratic beats Howard constructs around it. It’s the EP’s most disjointed, awe-inspiring production – complex and mutating, but never
One of the most endearing traits of the Lapalux sound is its ability to absorb a range of production styles and create a wholly unique account of their strengths. ‘Gone’ has elements of Clams Casino’s lethargic, syrupy ‘trap beats’ – huge synths and metallic claps nailing down melancholic samples at a snail’s pace – while ‘Yellow 90’s’ lifts the pace and tone, a Roger Troutman vocoder line snaking through some twisted yet up-tempo hip-hop. Some of the stylistic intricacies of ‘Moments’ make a reappearance here, demonstrating the skill and craftsmanship that so initially impressed the Brainfeeder camp.
‘Gutter Glitter’ has been doing the blog rounds for a couple of weeks already – a worthy calling card for When You’re Gone – and ‘Face Down, Eyes Shut’ bookends the EP with a return to the tranquil themes of the opener, Howard’s voice drifting in long, distant layers over white noise and ambient pads. The Lapalux / Brainfeeder link up is a formidable prospect, and hopefully one that will produce quality like this for years to come.
‘When You’re Gone’ will be released via Brainfeeder on February 7.