Many of the greatest electronic records win you over through capturing a particular set of emotions. They squeeze themselves into a part of your life where they fit, and cement an association with memories. Whether it’s Burial’s soundtrack to London night buses, the world-wandering beats of Bonobo, or Chase and Status for when you’re fighting a bear; it’s their thematic integrity which generates longevity. Lapalux’s second Brainfeeder LP, like a lot of these electronic records, generates memories as much as it takes them. Working to deadlines at 3am, juggling your keys and kebab after a night out, walking out of the club beside soft neon lights and empty cocktail glasses. Potentially disparate images are brought together through Lustmore’s brilliantly constructed atmosphere, one that simultaneously smacks of nostalgia whilst sounding like it came from 2085.
Lapalux is Stuart Howard, an Essex-based producer who first came to attention with 2008’s Forest EP. This little release packed a huge amount of electronic punch; it was clear from the off that Howard had both an inquisitive ear and rigorous production techniques, such was the layering and constant flux within the tracks that gives his music its luscious, organic atmosphere. His first LP for Brainfeeder, Nostalchic, impressed with its wonky hip-hop and soulful electronica, but it’s been nearly two years since that record and we’ve only had a few musical murmurs since. The outcome is an LP bursting with ambition and, like a fractal painting, seemingly infinite intricacies. You realise how few stems are left to their own devices, how often Howard steps in to tweak melody and splinter rhythms into their constituent crumbs. There’s no such thing as a drum beat on this album - it’s sewn so tightly into the textural fabric it’s almost impossible to unpack from tracks.
Take "Sum Body" for instance. The hook, a disintegrated drunken slur “Everyone needs somebody – I just need somebody”, is accompanied by at least half a dozen alternating pops and cracks. In "Midnight Peelers", there’s a stammered drum break which we don’t get treated to until over a minute in, which, when followed by the vocal, creates a dominant yet dreamy mix. It’s this richness without overloading which makes Lustmore wonderfully unique. Baths’ Cerulean, Com Truise’s sci-fi pop, or even Teebs’ heavenly orchestrations, all get quite claustrophobic on occasion. Somehow Howard generates excess without overwhelming headphones.
The album would not be what it is without Andreya Triana’s input, who worked with both Bonobo and Flying Lotus and so is very much at home around this kind of music. Her range and distinctive breathy vocal gifts tracks a timeless quality – particularly to "Puzzle", where Triana carefully navigates several difficult arrangements to create one of the most shadowy moments on Lustmore. However the album’s vocal climax comes in the form of "We Lost". The story of a relationship’s strains, it’s a relatively simple, beautiful pop song. Howard’s own voice is pure and unchanged – a rarity for someone used to warping pretty much every sound he comes across. This is beat music wrapped up in a little pop blanket – and is irresistible.
If there’s one complaint to make, it’s that the inclusion of "Make Money" – although a great track – doesn’t feel like it belongs with the rest of the record. But as a whole, Lustmore is Howard at the height of both his purpose and powers. It’s a record for the never-ending cocktail party at the end of the universe, and one that is sure to embed itself as a vital electronic album until we get there.