Lone LoneGalaxy Garden
Matt Cutler is loveable because his intentions and results are transparent. He keeps his promises and acts with a candour shared by few artists of his generation. His albums are escapist journeys into utopian territory and areas tread upon by only the most fertile imagination. They are so adorable precisely because he takes this nostalgic, ingenuous fantasy to its logical conclusion. It’s hard to say to what extent it is a nostalgia of the 90s rave phenomenon – he was a child when all of England turned out to the countryside for those weekend marathons — but what he does is doubtless explained by a frustrated desire to have lived through a time that he can only have found out about afterwards, and after an overdose of listening to old intelligent techno, hardcore breakbeat records and Detroit and NY imports. He’s one of our own, by God.
We said that his intentions and results are crystal clear - and there it is, plain to see, in the title of his new album, “Galaxy Garden”: the desire to explore remote, inaccessible places. The hope of discovering paradises on other planets, outer space arcadias where, like a new golden age, one finds the most wonderful nature imaginable, with celestial music playing, a place for the new race to dedicate itself to laziness and Epicureanism. Lone is completely detached from current events, society even, and his albums - the latest ones, to a greater extent - are a patient search for a way out. If this way out doesn’t exist, at least they are a refuge, a place to hide until the storm passes: an ivory tower or a bubble, where bells are always ringing and pianos trotting, with sliding synths and the voices of a malicious little gnome. In that tower, of course, one hears not only old albums by Orbital, Acen, Beaumont Hannant, The Black Dog, Aqua Regia and 808 State: the ones who in their day were able to outline an alternative to their present time. With or without the aid of liquid MDMA - which we want to imagine makes up 70% of his organism, instead of water - in “Galaxy Garden” Lone once again suggests a possibility of empathy, friendship, euphoria, and the option of being eternally happy.
This is his territory and he masters it; he has been making albums to get comfortable in for some time. At first there were colourful breaks, “Lemurian” (2008) and “Ecstasy & Friends” (2009), a sort of pastoral downtempo in a silicon world. Later there were complicated rhythmic roundabouts - with an accelerated tempo and an elaborate melodic framework, alongside levels of depth in the layers of sound. Like in the old intelligent techno, which was the best way to enter a labyrinth for several minutes without the fear of becoming lost inside forever, Lone never chooses the direct route. He enters into his pieces, makes his way around them, up and down, and finally - after lots of twists and turns - he shows us the way out on the other side, recreating periods that he feels like remembering along the way. For example, “Crystal Caverns 1991”, with its double-helix polyrhythm, responds grandly to the best moments of the hardcore of the period mentioned in the title. Both that cut and the next one, “Raindance”, admit that Acen’s “Trip To The Moon” is a perfect mirror in which to look at oneself: gentle bleeps, keyboard phrases that curl in a harmonious loop, rising like a cathedral to a plane of well-being, that fucking complexity that leaves your brains in a tangled mess. Without a doubt, Lone has achieved the logical continuation of - and at times even improved upon - the difficult-to-surpass “Emerald Fantasy Tracks” and their preamble, “Echolocations EP”.
He counts on the collaborations of Machinedrum – “As A Child” is another title with transparent semantics, a cosmic funk that reminds one of the solid deep house of labels like DJax-Up-Beats. Meanwhile “Cthulhu”, instead of being tentacular and underwater, is an exercise in space techno that bears a reasonable resemblance to the most delicate work of Underground Resistance or Sean Deason - and Anneka, who adds sweet vocals to “Spirals”, another cosmic trip with the approval of British pioneers of many-dimensional techno, like A Guy Called Gerald or Stasis. Most importantly, the album has bubbled up like a brook in the spring: there isn’t a single moment that overdoes it - not even the brief ambient interlude “Stands Tidal Waves”, which lives up to the best beatless moments of Arne Weinberg or John Beltran. Lone protects the listener from beginning to end in his bubble of love, his non-negotiable language consisting of returning to the past to bring us the best of a period that we remember as being happy, buoyant, and removed from the responsibilities of maturity. If you wonder why “Wonky” disappointed you, the answer is in the many virtues of “Galaxy Garden”. And yes, ok, it’s a mirage - it isn’t wise to become enthralled by its spell - but it is such a real, lifelike hallucination, that you say to yourself, “wisdom be damned! I’m staying here”.