Lone: Galaxy Garden
R&S Records

Fresh, radiant, impassioned—such words come to mind as one listens to the latest Lone outing from Manchester-based producer Matt Cutler. The album's title is well-chosen: the twelve-track collection is, most definitely, a galaxy garden of sound, as well as a splendid and fully realized portrait of Cutler's artistry. Drawn from the Chicago House and Detroit Techno traditions and infused with fresh dollops of soul and the euphoric spirit of rave, Cutler's music invites comparison to the equally high-energy material produced by fellow forward-thinkers Starkey and Sepalcure; in fact, powered by rave stabs and a frenetic groove, “Crystal Caverns 1991” could just as easily pass for an explosive Sepalcure track as one by Lone, and it's also telling that Sepalcure member Travis Stewart guests on two of the album tracks under the Machinedrum name. Galaxy Garden thus signifies a dramatic move away from the downtempo, hip-hop-influenced sound captured on the earlier releases Lemurian (2008) and Ecstasy & Friends (2009).

The vitality of Cutler's Lone project is immediately established by the exuberant and aptly titled “New Colour,” where radiant synthesizer melodies squiggle hyperactively buttressed by a pumping low-end. The opener, like “Lying in the Reeds” and other tracks, is also representative of Lone's melodically rich, rhythmically jaunty, and multi-colour sound. “As a Child” (the first of two tracks featuring hushed vocals by Stewart) fulminates with percussive fury and finds Cutler distinguishing the Lone sound by adding tablas to the track's breakneck beat fury, a move later revisited on the equally kaleidoscopic raver “Dream Girl/Sky Surfer.” The album also features a detour into Wagon Christ-styled acid (“Earth's Lungs”) plus a pleasing showcase for vocalist Anneka, who's worked with Starkey and Ital Tek, among others, and who elevates the sultry synth-pop of “Spirals” with her lustrous voice. There's a pronounced synthetic focus in play throughout, with radiant keyboards featured in both uptempo tracks and ambient vignettes (“Dragon Blue Eyes” and “Stands Tidal Waves”), and Cutler isn't shy about fashioning his music to be as luscious and wide-screen as possible. There's certainly nothing tentative about Galaxy Garden; instead, the album finds Cutler attacking the material with gusto, and consequently the joy of creation comes through loud and clear.

May 2012