Boxcutter: The Discolux (Planet µ)
Northern Ireland-based producer Barry Lynn has been making a gradual shift away from the darker dubstep sound of his earliest material over the last few years. With the release of his fourth album, it’s safe to say that he’s completely moved on into other, broader areas of interest musically. In fact, very little of The Discolux has much at all to do with the sharper sounds that characterized his 2006 debut on the same label; rather Lynn is prone to exploring more tuneful areas of R&B, funky breaks and mid-tempo dance music; much of the album has more in common with the jaunty leftfield hip-hop of Luke Vibert than Planet µ’s sometimes penchant for snarly dubstep. Boxcutter goes even so far as to introduce guest vocalists on some of the tracks, with Brian Greene appearing on three cuts, including the languid soul of “All Too Heavy” which goes down smooth. “TV Trouble” picks up on some of the pokey pop of chillwave acts like Washed Out but puts it through Lynn’s own funk filter, giving it slightly rougher edges in a good way. The most notable distinction between The Discolux and other releases I’ve heard from Boxcutter is the liberal incorporation of guitar into arrangements, which makes it feel friendlier to me. One of my favorites, however, is “Moon Pupils,” a bouncy broken beat track that originally appeared on a 12" last year. Its clean synth arrangements are fun and joyous and with just a tinge of something sinister under the surface. On the complete other side of the spectrum is the hazy pop of “The Dissolve,” again featuring vocals by Brian Greene and generous guitar and piano in its arrangement. This balancing act between nice genre pleasers (“Allele” would fit in neatly in any DJ set of future garage tracks) and breakouts (any of the vocal cuts especially) is surprisingly effective and allows Lynn to craft a deliberate arc over the course of 45 minutes.