A trip into Lone’s brain teeters on the edge of stimulus overload.
A trip into Lone’s brain teeters on the edge of stimulus overload. The stupidly prolific U.K. producer has been making mind-twisting beats for well over a decade now and 2017 is shaping up to be his busiest year. Lone (AKA Matt Cutler) is the midst of releasing a three-EP series dedicated for club nights and is apparently hoarding at least 40 more albums on his hard drives. He casually hooked up with the DJ-Kicks folks for this lovely little detour.
DJ-Kicks has been picking the brains of electronic mad geniuses for a long while now, but the last few years have marked a varied bounty. By simply asking for a mix of a selected artist’s favorite music, there’s a wonderful chance to see into the mind of some of electronic music’s most eccentric characters. Canadian jazz men BadBadNotGood recently dropped a session, as did German piano wizard Nils Frahm, and best of all, DJ Koze released a bar-setting playlist of brilliant deep cuts.
As he has done for much of 2017, Lone treats this as a low-stakes testing ground. Along with looking at some current tastes and formative tracks, he’s snuck four originals into the mix. These are the real reason to come to this version of DJ-Kicks. When you’ve got a man whose careless B-sides become treasure troves for sampling, you pay attention.
“Brooklyn Banks” takes it back to Cutler’s early days, a weird detuned piano stuttering over a boom-bap drum kit. It’s the sort of thing that, made dirtier, would have served as a solid Method Man backdrop. “Alpha Wheel 4 (Ambient Mix)” is a calmer version of the bass booming “Alpha Wheel” from the deeply underrated Levitate. “Arc” is a spicy little dancefloor burner and “Saturday Night” is the most surprising of the bunch, a gritty, grinding ode to Detroit Techno that’s one of the nastier things Cutler’s ever done.
The rest of the album follows that logic and is all over the damn place. Lone might have crafted a completely different set of tracks dependent on his mood–DJ-Kicks is that wide-ranging and variable. There is a sense of cohesion from track to track, but it’s easy to feel completely lost in the mix. Maybe that’s the point. He pulls out Radiohead, New York underground king Camo Tao and of course, his beloved Boards of Canada. It’s scattered brained for sure, but that’s probably Lone’s go-to mindset. And hey, any reason to dive into the murky, dance-floor insanity of Detroit Techno godfathers Drexciya is ever appreciated. The tranquil “The Outsiders” from outsider house prankster Ross from Friends is the biggest curveball, and perhaps the mix’s best moment. Considering the lo-fi sounds of outsider house seem to owe some of their oddness to Lone’s own DYI early work, it seems fitting that he pays it back. And maybe it’s a sign that with his recent slate of relaxed music, Cutler will aim for something spacier on his next album.
DJ-Kicks doesn’t hit quite as hard as Lone’s Boiler Room sessions. Especially when his favorite trick, going from one of his songs to the truly monstrous rave banger “Tear the Fuckin’ Club Up,” is missing. It feels more like his pre-release meditation “An Afternoon with Lone” (also with Boiler Room), when members of his family showed up to the taping and he simply hung out and played for them. It’s a light stroll through Cutler’s record collection and spare parts he’s been tinkering with. It’s an easy thing, ready for tea and small conversation rather than four on the floor madness, or shimmering, alien beauty. Still, I can think of much, much worse ways to spend an afternoon.