After he rose to pre-eminence with 2008’s Lemurian I was all about Lone for a while. It had those smudged-pastel BoC synths, that same-seaside holiday, nostalgic appeal of fellow countryman Bibio and enough wonky swag to tie it into the rapidly unfurling beat movement at the time. Then came Ecstasy & Friends and Emerald Fantasy Tracks where he shifted gears. He moved from boogie laced hip-hop into full on dreamy house mode and drifted off my radar completely.
They certainly weren’t rubbish albums, far from it, but the switch was somewhat alienating. The same sort of thing happened when Onra moved from The Chinoiseries and his Quetzal collabs onto the sleazy boogie styles of Long Distance, which despite being well received and elegantly produced, just didn’t press the right buttons when it came down to it. To be fair if Lone had released “Lemurian pt.2″ I would have gone ahead and panned it for its lack of originality, as in the case of the second Chinoiseries album when it dropped earlier this year, and considering the acclaim that he drew for both albums it’s fair to say that I’m in the minority.
Anyway, enter Galaxy Garden, Lone’s fifth album in as many years; Lemurian it certainly isn’t, but its Sega rave styling and near psychotic levels of enthusiasm had me hooked from the get go. It sits somewhere between the three aforementioned albums stylistically; tighter and more focussed than Emerald Fantasy Tracks but more unabashedly whimsical than his earlier work. Like Lemurian it uses nostalgia to excellent effect. Any of you that grew up in the ‘90s will probably find yourself grinning throughout particularly on “Crystal Caverns 1991”, which sounds like the soundtrack to a secret Sonic the Hedgehog stage set in the Hedonist Rave Zone. Other favorites are “The Animal Pattern” which sounds like Dorian Concept reworking The Campfire Headphase era Boards of Canada, and “Earth Lungs” which swings back and forth between ethereal, jangling keys and hectic, off-kilter dance floor pressure. My only criticism of the album is that the Machinedrum collabs, which on paper ought to be amazing, don’t really stand out from the rest, but considering the strength of all the material on show this is hardly surprising.
It’s somewhat fitting that R&S snapped Lone up for this release. They seem to be hell-bent on re-establishing themselves as the home of forward thinking producers (a roster that already includes James Blake, Airhead and Bullion). Accordingly this is one of the essential albums of the year so far and certainly Lone’s most compelling offering to date. When you consider his genre hopping dexterity and uncanny ability to imbue his curiously affecting style onto everything he touches, Galaxy Garden should go a long way towards cementing Lone’s reputation as one of the foremost bass music practitioners of the last few years.