Review: Lukid – ‘Drip’ (Arcola)

Lukid comes from the school of electronic music that appear fated to be dogged by references to their lack of easy categorisation. His low-slung, scuffed hip-hop origins have since given way to dabblings in deconstructed grime and some legitimate club bangers, but, like the best of his class, he’s managed to remain recognisably himself, maintaining a moody lo-fi sensibility simmering beneath the surface of all his work.

On his latest EP, Drip, more than ever Lukid feels like he’s peering through a fog, all the while pausing to appreciate the individual beams of refracted light. Regardless of how it was actually produced, each of the four songs is frankly analog in aesthetic. You can practically see the junkyard-like scrapheap of gear stuttering and whirring away behind each track, and yet by dint of its decay it morphs into something distinctly anthropomorphic. The edges have all been rounded off, and what’s left behind is warmth.

That’s not to say this is a by-the-numbers wholesome affair by any stretch. In fact, this tone of pleasant degradation affords Lukid the ability to incorporate a host of unusual sounds. The central dynamic is predominantly between airy synths and softly-tapped drum-beats, but there are plenty of worn samples that fade into focus, be it the age-old television voices on ‘Head Shrinker’ or the mechanical crashes glimpsed in the background of ‘Drip’. These aren’t dense tracks by any measure, but the individual elements are never straightforward.

Thanks to the attention given to tone, as a cohesive extended player Drip works wonders. The synth sound throughout has a delicate, almost childlike timbre to it, both due to the blooming patterns each synth line follows, but also because Lukid’s innocent tinkling is often slightly smudged by a nostalgic minor key. The whole EP is emotive without feeling exploitative, crafting a piece that feels beholden to past practices whilst simultaneously using them to create something forward-thinking and new.

Even as there is a persistent haze across Drip, it still successfully finds moments of tonal divergence. On ‘The Clappers’ the broody punch of the bass is accompanied by synths that could almost be anthemic, before dropping an octave and morphing into the closest thing this EP has to a floorfiller. Elsewhere, the final track ‘Conked Out’ is the one that most resembles another act, evoking Aphex Twin’s most heartfelt moments on ‘Alberto Balsalm’ in its sweet simplicity.

Given the crackles that can be heard throughout, it should come as no surprise that Drip is somewhat of a slow burn. And yet, as a fully realised evocation of hardware and humanity, it manages to hit a series of gripping emotional notes. Rather than just sounding overcast, it transcends both its creator and its medium of creation, landing somewhere neatly between the two.

Drip is out now on Arcola. Buy it here.

Words: Blaise Radley

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