Lone – Angel Brain/Pineapple (Magic Wire)

Lone’s sound has always been highly focussed; perhaps a little too focussed for this writer’s tastes. Last year’s LP, Ecstasy & Friends, relied heavily on – to put it reductively – woozy synth shapes culled from Boards Of Canada and a blissful hip-hop stumble adapted from FlyLo’s more straightforward cuts, and strayed too often into over-familiarity and, ultimately, boredom.

It’s refreshing, then, to see that the producer born Matt Cutler has moved on. With the inauguration of his own label, Magic Wire, comes a 10” with its sights trained on the dancefloor, and a newfound set of reference points to join the old; namely early ‘90s hardcore and the soulful end of house.

Such a shift (probably not coincidentally) couldn’t have come at a better time. Where previously Cutler’s explorations in nostalgia made for a largely bedroom-oriented experience, it’s an ethos which is nicely in tune with UK club music’s current state of mind; not to mention the scene’s ongoing enthusiastic reappraisal of house music in all its forms.

Angel Brain is the stronger of the two, managing to keep dancefloor momentum while sharing a lot with Cutler’s earlier productions. Pineapple Crush draws more candid links to contemporary trends, with an 808-heavy drum palette of which Addison Groove would be proud. That’s not to say this is bandwagon-jumping though; Cutler’s still rummaging far further back in his record collection for inspiration. His trademark hardcore-esque chord stabs are out in full force (their presence is, as usual, a little heavy handed), and everything’s got a benign, tape-warped grit to it which much of UK dance music lacks.

But, if there’s one criticism of these tracks, it’s that they don’t go far enough. While Cutler’s synchronicity with current trends will make this 10” a useful tool in many a DJ’s crate, the producer will probably struggle to leave a lasting impression on dancefloors – that wide-eyed, ‘what the fuck is this!?’ moment that discerning consumers crave. Individuality just falling short of striking originality – a phrase which could be applied to Cutler’s output as a whole. It’s a shame he’s not yet managed to shake it off.

Angus Finlayson