Boxcutter BoxcutterThe Dissolve
When listening to “The Dissolve” from start to finish, the first thing that becomes clear is that Planet Mu decided to release the vinyl of “Alelle”, the big taster for Boxcutter’s fourth album on the label, as some kind of distraction. The sound of that nervous and slippery track doesn’t correspond to the rest of the material, although it does to Barry Lynn’s sound in general: complex, dynamic, fractured breaks inspired by Moving Shadow-like drum’n’bass, but in slow motion. “Alelle” –which appears halfway through the album– is, therefore, the link between the old Boxcutter and the 2011 Boxcutter, a covert transition to a new start. “The Dissolve”, let’s accept it, is an almost complete break with his previous style, a flight from dubstep and everything it represents to a register that which, in very general lines, we could simply call “downtempo” –the speed is still slow, without accelerations, except “Moon Pupils”, the most FaltyDL-ish moment of all– which looks for inspiration in an ultra-futurist idea of funk.
Ever since “Oneiric” (2006) it’s been obvious that Lynn was going his own way. That album was a fusion exercise between dubstep and IDM –between Skream and a playful Aphex Twin–, and the Irishman never felt part of the scene’s core. He had a well-defined taste and an important background that allowed him to experiment with the genetics of the broken rhythm as he pleased, which is why the jump towards “Glyphic” (2007), where the spine was formed by jungle, was so easy. Now, with “The Dissolve”, he’s definitely no longer part of the dubstep scene: we imagine him listening, with a look of surprise on his face, to some new, relaxed music released on Planet Mu sent to him by Paradinas –the albums and EPs by Oriol and Tropics, for example– and feeling the call of funk, of those slapping basses and electrifying synths, old and shining. The intriguing thing about Boxcutter is that the record isn’t exactly a flight towards a glamorous and baroque kind of bass music in the vein of LuckyMe / Hoya:Hoya: Lynn sounds as isolated as ever, you might talk to him about Illum Sphere and Hudson Mohawke and he might shrug in a gesture of ignorance. But if we would have to place him on one particular planet, it would be that one. More or less.
We could also imagine Barry Lynn reminiscing about his childhood in the eighties and sharing a fascination for the incidental transitions in so many series of the time – “Miami Vice”, mostly–, with those kitschy and epic keyboards, with other obsessives of synthesised music like Ford & Lopatin and Com Truise. That’s what “Passerby” and “TV Troubles” sound like, the moment when Boxcutter best certifies his transition from one sound to another, from the cold night of London to leaving a club in the early morning on a beach in Florida, driving down the coast in a convertible. The intelligent thing about him is that he never sounds kitschy, not even when he invites vocalists give a funk and AOR touch to songs like “All Too Heavy” (with Brian Greene, who reappears on “Ufonik” and “The Dissolve”).
Even more intelligent is that, apart from the significant variations within it, the sound is still very much Boxcutter, because there is something that doesn’t change: where there is a break, Barry Lynn always smashes it, gives it his particular deconstructive touch and a fungous consistency, as if it were about to dissolve or completely deform at any moment. “The Dissolve” isn’t his best album, logically, but it is a first big step to a new era that will offer new creative peaks in a career that is going to last for a long time. The threat of longevity is his biggest victory in 2011.