When Luke Blair’s debut Onandon fell into my hands a few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised. I had trailed off in my listening of much instrumental downtempo in the glut of post 90s minimal techno that seized my attention, and it is a really understated, handsome slab of warm instrumental listening. I missed his follow-up, so Chord comes at me after a long gap. Bearing in mind how most leftfield hip hop and its various tangents have evolved over the last decade, Chord appears to find Lukid at the top of his game, staying true to the touch that qualifies his tracks as his own while infusing them with plenty of 2010 to make it sound current. The title cut opens the album perfectly. It lives up to its name with a droning chord anchored by a beefy sine bass signal that keeps the track moving forward. The rhythm tracks have more in common with future garage and dubstep than the plodding downtempo of his earlier material, which lends an added bit of edge to the mix. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, either: “Rags” has a dense chuggy groove and some nice grimy synths, while “Hair of the Dog” has a massive undulating loop that likes it to the hangover the title references. But for each dirtier groove, Lukid has a nice smooth one to complement it. “Spiller” is a really gorgeous track that seems to levitate with its light, pulsing chords and airy effects, while closer “Makes” is a nice bookend to the opening title cut, full of manipulated vocal drones and swooning synth tones, repetitive chords and choppy backing rhythm tracks. Chord is one of a handful of 2010 releases that have really reinstilled faith in leftfield hip hop and downtempo music for me. It’s really refreshing to hear so much inspired music coming out when there is more music available at our fingertips than ever before.
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