Lone // Galaxy Garden // April 30 // R&S
Look at that cover up there, let your eyes cover every detail of it. Usually album covers showcase artist’s attempt to be presented as more clever than they actually are. Either that or they’re just a don’t-give-a-shit snaps that apply so much to the Instagram generation. But Galaxy Garden, that up there is a near perfect representation of what Nottingham’s Matt Cutler AKA Lone is doing on his fifth album. It’s colourful neon colours shining brightly in the dark make Galaxy Garden one of the best dance records to come out this year.
Just like Rustie, Lone is approaching dance music while having his kaleidoscope glasses on. Every track on here is a mash up of trance, techno, rave with an equal dose of pop and hip hop injected into it. Lone presents the ever so fashionable maximalist tendencies but he’s not the one to follow the Scottish maximalists by adding everything on top of everything. Galaxy Garden has its share of space. While a lot of Glass Swords sounded like Sun rays melting those two big crystals on the cover, Galaxy Garden is life after the sun goes down, the sound of moonlight hitting them for the first time. That doesn’t mean that Lone’s fifth album is any less fun than any of its predecessors. It might find Cutler adapting a more fashionable sound than that of his previous record but despite him being to young to experience that rave bliss first-hand, Galaxy Garden does it enough justice by combining everything that goes and doesn’t go together. Even the two highlights on here: Crystal Caverns 1991 and Cthulhu sound different, the former being a soundtrack to a SNES adventure while the later is much more organic with guitars that go in and out of focus, making you feel like you just dove into the unknown seas.
Galaxy Garden manages to wrap nostalgia into something futuristic and unfamiliar. Lone’s new album certainly stands out as one of the most minimalistic efforts of the maximalist period. It might sound like a Caribbean party but there’s a certain glacial quality to the LP which makes moments on here rather cold for pure dancefloor hedonism. Galaxy Garden won’t be fully appreciated until you listen to it on headphones. It’s not that it emulates the rumbling adventures of UK bass scene, it’s that it features so many tiny sounds flying at you from every direction it’s hard to focus on one particular keyboard melody because it’s being replaced by another before you figure out what you’re doing. Glass Swords might have had three melodies going at the same time from the start of the track til it crashes out of the window with glee and aplomb but Galaxy Garden is much more IDM in its approach to melodic elements. Lone’s new album is very approachable but not enough of it is memorable and easily digestible on first, third or fifth listens. The only real pop moment comes here in the shape of the closer Spirals which is also the only track on here to feature female vocals courtesy of Anneka. Galaxy Garden channels 90s in a more natural way, it wasn’t all euphoric trance riffs anyway. While it is compared to Rustie in nearly every review, personally I see more easy comparisons to chilled out 90s ravers like Orbital who can create hands-in-the-air moments out of chill passages rather than neverending hooks. Galaxy Garden requires patience to tame it but it delivers like few other backwards glancing dance LPs do.
Matt Cutler might be making his music more approachable with every new album he drops but doesn’t feel like he’s dumbing down the sounds just to appeal to a larger group of people. Rather than the sounds themselves, Cutler applies more ideas that ask the listener to explore. On Galaxy Garden ho offers more than ever but leaves a lot of the threads open ended which makes Lone’s new LP another stop in his journey rather than ultimate destination. It’s rare for an album that is clearly influenced by 90s to sound like one man’s trip through solar system at the speed of light. Lone succeeds greatly in his attempt to recreate the decade in his own warped way. The only difference? The real 90s were never this colourful.