Lone: Galaxy Garden (R&S)
It’s telling how unique Lone’s sound is when I can pick it out from a tracklist immediately, every single time practically. He’s been honing his chops for a few years now, and Galaxy Garden is perhaps the most comprehensive culmination of those efforts so far. It’s a techno full-length that sounds both impossibly not of its time as well as current and on the pulse. Lone’s production is full-bodied and saturated, with many of its bright synths vying for the foreground while they combine to form shiny tapestries of melody. Sort of like vintage 808 State and Plaid made a baby. What I really like about Galaxy Garden is that Lone has tempered his knack for melody and vibrant synths with a better sense of space and balance. On some of his previous efforts, sounds appeared to be fighting each other for room, while here they all sit comfortably with each other to the betterment of the final product. The obvious single is “Crystal Caverns 1991,” a total romp that starts off with a joyous synth pattern before breaking out into a full-on vintage rave explosion in its bridge. Despite that being a definite highlight in the center of the tracklist, there are plenty of others to be found. “Lying in the Reeds” has a more patient tempo and a really nice ease to it, while opener “New Colour” sets the tone perfectly with its jubilant, scattered melody. I’m curious as to where he’ll head from here — it’s possible that he’ll simply continue to hone his craft at these sounds which are so distinct (and yet so nostalgic). Maybe he’ll surprise us with something altogether different? In any case, surely one of the best dance albums of 2012, highly, highly recommended.