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Levitate (R&S)

is nothing if not consistent. Matt Cutler has been steadily
indulging a full-blown nostalgia for the braindance of the early 90s
over a series of singles and albums. His sound is so distinct that it
requires only a few seconds of chord stabs to immediately tell that
it’s a Lone production. In this sense, it’s not purely nostalgia, but
it is difficult to divorce those nostalgia from his style or vice
versa. However, where Levitate does provide some change from his
previous album, 2014’s Reality Testing, is in ditching downtempo
beats outright, instead favoring his typically fidgety, syncopated
post-rave anthems and occasional beatless interludes. The result
feels more focused not only in its shorter running time (3 cuts less
than its predecessor) but in its more consistent tempo; somehow those
ambient passages feel more like breathing spots than a distraction
from his more full-on tracks.

His production here in general feels
cleaner and more sensitive, though he still tends to pile on layers
and details. But when comparing opener “Alpha Wheel” with an
older release like 2010’s Emerald Fantasy Tracks, while the sounds
themselves are not so different, the clarity of each element is more
refined and pronounced. In this sense, Levitate feels less like a
deliberate advancement of Lone’s style or sound and more like a
honing of his craft. And it’s hard to find fault there — he is
quite good at what he does, and it sounds even better here than
usual. There are pleasant deviations from his signature here and
there, like the patient trailing off in the outro of “Backtail Was
Heavy” segueing into the ethereal, reversed haze of “The Morning
Birds.” Time will tell as to whether the project will break out of
its own trappings down the road, but on its own merits as a
self-contained album, Levitate is a strong showing and one of Lone’s
best efforts to date.

Buy it: Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon