LEFSE Like many of us, Dexter Tortoriello was made redundant last year. And like so many others, he thought that what he needed was a radical change. So protected by the low risk of naïvity, he threw himself it’s pursuit. The mysterious Chicago bedroom producer decided to run off with his girlfriend, Megan Messina, to the place of their dreams: Hawaii. There they settled in Papaikou, without drinking water or electricity, in a shack in the middle of the wilderness. Being so connected to the island habitat allowed the couple to breathe fresh air, recharge their batteries on the land, reset their brains with a sustainable lifestyle in which they grew their own food and drank rainwater. Although the mere idea of doing this might scare the shit out most of us, for them it was something very easy, and when they reached their own dynamic in the ecosystem, Megan started painting and Dexter started recording. He did so with the only thing he had taken to the out-of-the-way quiet of his “desert island”: a laptop run on solar energy, with which he was able to capture sounds and field recordings. With this, he confirmed that along with the most extreme and basic need to survive, one must also be able to create. So far, it sounds like a romantic utopia. If you want to get an idea of the dreamy microclimate in which Megan and Dexter lived, take a look at the video for “Endless Spring”, recorded then.
When the adventure ended, Dexter dedicated himself to cataloguing all of the finds recorded. From them he composed “All Night”, doubling the rhythmic patterns and sustaining them with homemade drumbeats. Back in big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, “All Night” took on a definitive shape in more bucolic IDM, and now it is presented as a pure, crystalline debut that lives and breathes its earthly origins in every groove as you listen to it. “All Night” is transparent magic, crystal-clear beauty, music of and for love; “Reds” is a great declaration of love from Dexter to his own particular Eve, made with subtlety and humility, eternally virgin. To use a cliché, you can say that in listening to “All Night” it seems like nothing is happening, but then later you discover it’s epidermal power when you find the marks that it has left on your flesh. All of this can only be due to the setting where this album was created, as the fact that it comes from pure nature, seeming to flow through ravines, through the greenery and mountains that saw it’s birth—this initially takes it away from a world full of rushing, drugs, timetables and machines, with everlasting work to be done.
Dexter wanted the artistic project he had proposed for himself in Hawaii to come out as something really special, and this first release as Houses is the palpable proof that he has achieved it. It shows him to be an author with a timid, yet certain approach, whose work sounds delicious at any time of the day: rejuvenating in the mornings, and ubiquitous late at night. “All Night” and it’s entire genetic code hark back, in general terms, to the delicate mystery of Boards Of Canada, which is evident throughout the album, but especially in the bridge of “Soak It Up” . Distant connections could also be made to the flaccid post-rock of “Ágætis Byrjun” ( “Sleeping”), more obvious with the work of people like Teen Daze (friends and collaborators), or directly naturalistic connections could be made to another gorgeous recent debut, that of Candy Claws. Like the music hidden in “Hidden Lands”, that of “All Night” is made with machines that seem to come from a world that doesn’t need them. The air of bucolic dreaminess is identical. To generate such a temperature, the tone of the first press in vinyl has been maintained in the digital format, contributing even more to increasing the pleasing feel of it’s floating pianos, Balearic rhythms, the gentle chill breeze that fogs everything, and the mists of “Medicine” or “Sun Fills” . The hypnagogic lethargy of “Rose Book” soaks into the skin like rain and changes colour depending on the lens you look through. It invites us to remember that an album needn’t be less toxic because it is minimalist or speaks softly. Really there is barely any poison in “All Night” , almost for the better: what we have in our hands is a real antidote.