In Lukid’s discography, there is a decisive jump over the course of the months separating his timid yet strong debut, “Onandon” (Werk, 2007), and the ambitious continuation, “Foma” (Werk, 2009). During this time Luke Blair, as if he had had a divine revelation, realised that the instrumental hip hop that had dominated his first album was a good point of departure, but that it was lacking in drive and ambition. Not in vain was he immersed in the discipline of the label Werk, taken on by Actress as a protégé or disciple, and in that house it’s not enough to sound lazy or narcotic to earn a place on the first division team. Werk requires that its artists create a sound space that is distorted, futuristic, abstract, and impossible to predict. As with Actress’ “Splaszh,” – where techno is a way of starting the trip but, in the end, the journey is very different – Lukid had to do the same thing with “Foma,” which was apparently a downtempo album, but nourished with influences from calm dubstep, Cubist hip hop, and other urban music with a mellow tempo that gave it a richer dimension and a more ambitious scope. “Chord,” released now only as a triple record, is like the continuation of this experiment, the appendix to that sound exploration: it isn’t as big of a jump as the one between his first two albums, but it is definitely another step ahead.
Lukid, as Werk’s other big luxury supporting actor – we’re talking about Lone, who has evolved from melancholy IDM with breaks like Boards Of Canada into a very personal revival of hip hop – is a well-rounded producer who covers a wide range of spaces and aims at different audiences. His music is above all horizontal, lazy, for foggy states of mind, but also has a layer of turbulence in the background. For example, “Chord,” the first cut, fits into a certain tradition of dubstep that is above all concerned with textures: it has something of 2006 Burial, some concise basses and very chopped, perfectionist breaks, like those of Shackleton. But in the jump to the second track, “Veto,” there are already hip hop breaks, guitar samples, and a warm groove that is only interrupted at the end, when a very fat bass comes in. All of these sounds come together at an average pace, but the colours and moods are varied, and this is what makes “Chord” a valuable album. He knows how to refer to Mike Slott ( “Rags”) and Mount Kimbie ( “Hair of the Dog”) while still remaining Lukid at all times.
For people who feel lost in the labyrinthine nuances of pleasurable bass music or unhurried breakbeat, there may be no other more complete album-summary of sensibilities than this one. But be careful: this is not a “listener’s digest” for consumers in a rush, but rather a private space resolved with delicate hands. Lukid isn’t interested in borrowing influences from here and there, but rather in widening his own aesthetic—the one that peeked out of “Onandon”– with anything that tickles his ears and can be taken advantage of. He isn’t a pirate or a predator, but rather a gourmet with his own style book, who also has the virtue of being extraordinarily flexible. So, “Sabblebags” sounds like Burial without claustrophobia and in full daylight, and “Lego” sustains itself on a 4x4 beat that takes it to a place somewhere between techno and wonky, like a Rustie without heavy metal exhibitionism. And beyond that, in his discourse, Lukid manages to reconcile currents like Balearic ( “Spiller”), psychedelic hip hop with a folk background like Bibio ( “Makes”), and several ambient variations that add greater doses of substance and passion. It is definitely an album that shows growth, for an artist who was already in the elite of Mutant Break, and who is now thoroughly consolidating himself. It’s going to be hard for anybody to get him out of there for a long time to come.
Lukid - Spiller