On September 22nd, 2011, Flying Lotus signed English producer Lapalux to his L.A.-based label, Brainfeeder. Brainfeeder is known for its experimental, beat-driven sound which is championed primarily by its owner and manager. Being a product of the L.A. bass scene, Brainfeeder has a distinct hip hop flavour: the result of a mostly American roster. Though Lapalux (born Stuart Howard) hails from across the pond, his music sounds perfectly at home on Flylo’s forward-thinking imprint.
Describing in words Lapalux’s music is certainly a difficult task, as it generally lacks any of the recognizable structure seen in electronic music or any music for that matter. There are no drops, buildups, choruses or verses; instead, songs flow like rivers of sound, each segment bleeding into the next. Uninhibited by traditional structural restraints, the music wanders beyond the bounds of normal appreciation; the focus is oftentimes on texture rather than melody, space rather than rhythm. Howard himself has been known to find amusement in the unusual ways fans will dance to his music, simultaneously reacting to different parts of the song in the absence of a regular beat.
When prompted about unusual dance moves he’s seen at his shows, he recalls hazily from a pub somewhere in London: “When I was playing in Calgary, there was some twerking going on, and the girl that was twerking was actually a guy and another dude was trying to get in there. It was pretty amusing at the time.” Whether or not such a display had anything to do with Lapalux’s music, we may never know, but it certainly doesn’t sound like a typical night out in wild rose country.
A little over a year ago, Howard released his full-length debut Nostalchic via Brainfeeder. The album’s title is a portmanteau of the words “nostalgia” and “chic,” and this idea of combining old things to create something vaguely rec-ognizable but distinctly new runs to the core of the work.
“It’s all about mixing things together,” Howard explains.
“That kinda sums up the whole sort of sound I’ve got.”
Even the cover of the album owes to this theme: the image is composed of thin slices of photographs from Howard’s childhood, arranged side by side to create a new picture. The songs themselves often contain elements of R&B, soul, and pop, though they’ve been utterly disintegrated before being rewoven into Lapalux’s textural atmospheres. Rhythm-wise, the tracks are often barely held together by faltering, off-kilter percussion; there exists a fine line at the edge of stability before chaos that Howard manages to skillfully balance upon.
Nostalchic made serious waves in electronic music circles, and by the sounds of it, a Lapalux sophomore project is already well underway. In addition, there have been rumblings of collaborative effort between Howard and his labelmates, the Underachievers, a rap duo from Brooklyn. Howard confirms this rumour in his characteristically understated tone:
“I don’t really do much of the instrumental hip hoppy sort of stuff, but the Un-derachievers approached me and asked if I would want to work with them on their next record. I already had some stuff made that they liked, and that was it really.”
Lapalux gets turned up at Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver on May 10th.
By Peter Scheiber