Essex-based Stuart Howard is quick to emphasise the influence of the visual world on his music, something that goes a long way towards explaining both his cinematic productions and the title of his latest EP, ‘Many Faces Out of Focus’.
Fascinated from a young age with all things audible, Howard – who goes by the enigmatic moniker Lapalux – embarked on his production career with that most contemporary of tools: the Playstation. Combining the console’s music-based software with his own field recordings, Howard started to develop the richly layered sounds that now permeate his work, many examples of which can be found at his Soundcloud page – demonstrating a rare mix of prolificacy and quality.
‘Many Faces Out of Focus’ is a mature follow up to 2008’s Forest EP, and finds Howard teaming up with beat music hotbed Pictures Music. The EP works as a perfect demonstration of the producer’s limitless skills, as well as a showcase of the numerous influences on his work.
Opener ‘Time Spike Jamz’ is a contradiction on the ears. A minimal, Mount Kimbie-ish production is combined with countless layers and compositional ideas, and the mutating arrangement at times verges on schizophrenic. The overall result is intriguing: a perfect representation of the creative scope of this genre.
The short interludes of ‘Quick Kiss’ and ‘Cousin If’ provide further intrigue. The former channels the disconcerting yet irresistible rhythmic tug of Flying Lotus, its catchy keys line difficult to shift from the memory for a long time after listening, while the latter is another virtuosic display of disjointed beat fragments, peppered with scraps of ‘80s vocals and Yamaha DX7.
The EP’s centrepiece, however – both literally and figuratively – is the superb ‘There Are Monsters In This Bed’. A hypnotic manipulation of vocal samples, half-time beats, a lonely music box and reversed chords, the track is both melancholic and uplifting in the same breath. ‘Sister Pick’ sets its filters to murky, very much paying tribute to fellow beatsmith Lukid and the rest of the Werk Discs roster, while closer ‘Time, Patience, Everything’ is the
polar cousin of the EP’s opening track, a therapeutic distillation of the sharp click of handclap snares and otherworldly vocals.
Pictures Music have once again managed to get their hands on a producer of great talent and artistry. ‘Many Faces out of Focus’ is an impressive calling card of a label debut, one that manages to pay respect to its influences while offering something refreshing and unique; a real gem.
‘Many Faces Out of Focus’ is released through Pictures Music 18th April as a limited edition cassette release and MP3 download.