FaltyDL – Atlantis review

FaltyDL has long been something of a musical alchemist; the New Yorker’s wriggling, mutating sonic experiments are borne from whatever the studio equivalent is to hunching over a row of bubbling test tubes in a laboratory, carefully seeking out the right measurements to discover that elusive elixir of life. Contained within those test tubes is a milieu of musical elements – a forgotten jungle break, a vocal from an 80s house classic, or an obscure slice of afrobeat – which are then combined with certain trademark touches (slashing, frantic hats) and constantly evolving rhythms.

These experiments becoming increasingly deft, and the Atlantis EP arrives on venerable UK imprint Ninja Tune with arguably the most accomplished FaltyDL productions to date. The producer’s relationship with some of electronic music’s most respected labels – Planet Mu, 50 Weapons, Rush Hour, Swamp 81 – has seem some fascinating results, especially in 2011, but even so this serves as a landmark release.

As with most recent FaltyDL 12”s the artwork is striking, and, like his Mean Streets release for Swamp 81, the vinyl weighs in at a reassuringly heavy 180g. The title track is a melodic, smudged out deep house roller, with a bassline that evokes memories of LCD Soundsystems’ “Tribulations” dovetailing snugly with twangy plucked instrumentation. As one expects from a FaltyDL production, there are frequent rhythmic shifts, changes in direction and any number of seemingly disparate samples, mashed together into one engaging whole.

“Can’t Stop The Prophet” is more adventurous still, with crackly atmospherics, toyed-with vocals and sumptuous strings giving off a languid, relaxed air – that is until the frenetic jungle breakdown arrives – perhaps a nod to his earliest forays into production. There’s even a cheeky moment at the end where the source material for the primary samples is briefly, tantalisingly, revealed – a trick that he has used on recent outings for All City and Swamp 81. The flipside houses two more richly detailed productions, with the hip-hop-esque swagger of “My Light My Love” an exercise in the art of filtering. The clattering hats and softly throbbing deep house chords of “The Sale Ends” save perhaps the most emotive, introspective moment of the EP for last, leaving an unmistakable sense that, once again, this musical alchemist has got his measurements just right.

Aaron Coultate