Stuart Howard aka Lapalux returns to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label this year to release his 3rd studio album entitled Ruinism, how has his sound progressed since his last outing in 2015?
His experimental beats tend to be out of the ordinary, combining beautiful samples with sci-fi sound scapes and intense synthesis. Until now however his music has usually leaned towards hip hop and R&B influences, aiming to essentially create something you can dance to. But it is instantly clear that this project has taken a different path, with an emphasis on creating tension and progression in a much more classical approach. With the first two tracks hardly featuring a drum hit between them, and a mirage of string and woodwind samples accompanied by weird and wonderful sound design. Even the first real beat we hear on Petty Passion is erratic, and is probably designed to provoke more than to groove to.
There are a lot of influences from IDM producers like Aphex Twin, Rotted Arp is a great example of his cinematic approach to production. His use of the frequency range and stereo field is nothing short of a masterclass, with each element somehow finding its own space; even in a rather messy arrangement. Some may struggle with the amount of detuning used on the synths however, as they swing in and out of key like a rusty park swing (hence the title) it could cause a bit of a headache.
Glossy atmospheres and spoken film samples decorate the albums intro’s, and with help from vocalists JFDR, Louisahhh, Talvi and GABI we almost come close to what could be called a song. Although Brainfeeder is not known for traditional verse/ chorus pop song structures, a little contrast from the more challenging listens is possibly needed.
His destructive use of distortion on his analogue drum hits is especially brave on this release, and it would surely translate very well onto a large sound system. The majority is much more introspective, and would work well as score for a video game or film. Displacer is less than 3 minutes long and does not pretend to be anything other than a drum-less, almost groove-less collection of stunning sonics. The albums story continues as we move onto 4EVA, featuring the albums most memorable vocal. Talvi sounds incredible here, lost in a sea of reverberations her Grimes-esque vocal floats above a tasteful accompaniment of future-r&b.
Not every track is deadly serious though, there are some more playful moments like the 2-step meets acid swing on Essex Is Burning; as well as the choice to use a major key on Flickering. At 12 tracks long the album is enough of a journey without getting lost along the way, and unlike many more avant garde albums he has chosen to keep the track lengths relatively short. This has made the album a much easier listen, and will no doubt open it up to a new audience as well as his usual synth-geeks. This project will resonate with fans of Jon Hopkins, Djrum and even Burial to some extent, and is a showcase of some of Howards most accomplished productions to date. Come and give our separate hi-fi systems a challenge with Lapalux’s latest album Ruinism at your local richer Sounds today!