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Monday, May 21, 2018

Lucas - Fall in Love EP Music Album Reviews

Lucas - Fall in Love EP Music Album Reviews

On his second solo EP, the Seattle producer weaves together samples, field recordings, and original instrumentation to craft tactile electronic music that’s beat-oriented yet meditative.

Seattle producer Matt Lucas isn’t one to rush. His wistful, atmospheric songs are noticeably slower than most club music, often clocking in at 90 bpm or less. And in an era of constantly updated SoundCloud feeds, Lucas, who records under his last name, releases his work at a measured pace. Since emerging in 2014, he’s put out just one solo EP, Clearing, and a collaborative EP with Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth. But, despite his small catalog, he’s slowly finding his voice as a songwriter.

That voice is clearer than it's ever been on Lucas’ second EP, Fall in Love, which explores an impressive range of ideas in just 20 minutes and four tracks. He approaches songwriting the way a DJ might, stitching together distinct movements into a patchwork whole and creating texture through juxtaposition, drawing from disparate genres (he cites post-rock and lo-fi indie as influences, while his drum programming is rooted in contemporary rap) and leveraging a variety of sources: samples, field recordings, original instrumentation. On Fall in Love, this style starts to feel truly purposeful: Melodies build momentum and collide forcefully, the seams that unite them smooth but visible. For the first time, Lucas’ songs demand more attention than the methods he used to make them.

Although his work often feels sun-streaked, opener “Beacon” is a bouncy, late-night club banger that still finds space for plaintive keys and a stargazing crescendo. “Baptist” evokes a Buddhist monastery as much as a church: Lucas layers echoing bells and chimes atop record scratches and a hip-hop break, like Kid Koala blending a Four Tet record with a dusty rap 12". True to its title, “Fall in Love” is the EP’s most nakedly sentimental track. Over the course of five minutes, the song builds from a swirling pool of sepia-toned R&B into a trap instrumental, then washes away in a sea of reverb-soaked guitar notes that could have been plucked from an emo record.

“Corsica,” the EP’s stunning closer, is a showcase for the dynamic shifts that animate Lucas’ music. Portions of the song wouldn’t feel out of place on one of Kompakt’s Pop Ambient compilations, save for the expressive drum beats that form the track’s bones—little bursts of noise that punctuate a chorus of exhaling voices. Once that groundwork has been laid, the beat pushes to the fore, in the form of a half-drunk fill that nods toward the precise but human production of J. Dilla. When a racing, arpeggiated synth and a pounding 4/4 beat nudge the rhythm aside, the song hurtles into straight-faced trance territory. But then a window opens, the air clears, and all of its many disparate elements reach an equilibrium.

With a palette this varied and individual tracks that cover so much stylistic ground, Lucas continues to blur the line between DJ and composer. But, as his music evolves, he’s starting to find his niche as a creative force (rather than simply an eclectic curator) in electronic music. Fall in Love often recalls the fractured warmth of Fennesz, the warped nostalgia of Boards of Canada, and the glimmering intracracy of Four Tet. While Lucas still has a long way to go if he wants to achieve the compositional sophistication for which those acts are known, he’s steadily refining his craft with each bite-sized release. Just give him some time.

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