One of the more prolific artists in these times, Matt Cutler is back with his fifth album, which is an impressive feat in just five years of releasing music. It’s also worth noting that at this stage, he’s only released one more EP than he has long-players. Lone isn’t a project that seems to demand a full-length release in which to spread itself; the tracks tend to be self-contained nuggets simply bound together by a stylistic consistency rather than some lofty thematic notion.
It’s this disregard for pretention that makes Cutler’s music so appealing, whether it be the exuberant 90s house approach on last album Emerald Fantasy Tracks or his earlier hip hop-tempo bump. Hearing the likes of “Pineapple Crush” in the past, not to mention the glorious technicolour that identifies all his music, it’s no surprise that his approach lends itself to the open-air breaks of early 90s rave.
Galaxy Garden starts off on a more esoteric tip with the tropical electronica of “New Colour”, which captures the cheeriness of Plaid, or more recently Oriol on Planet Mu, in its sunshine chimes. By the time we get to “Lying In The Reeds” we’re up to a house tempo that harks back to the softer side of early Detroit, playing with melody in a way that made Kenny Larkin stand out early on. It’s when “Crystal Caverns 1991” starts up that we reach the most blatant distillation of old-skool; kicking off a breakstep beat with sweet but punchy 90s synths, the track cuts into a deadly rave motif without so much as a pause in the beat and it’s like being back in, er, 1991.
“Cthulu” takes its lead from early jungle, capturing that innocent, pad-heavy part of the track before it always used to drop away into something utterly darkside. Here though, the innocence remains and the beat strolls in lazily in a half-step fashion. By the midway point, the gentle guitar lines sound like something Bukem would plump for. It’s not all instantly identifiable heritage though, as the head-twisting “Earth’s Lungs” testifies with a snapping, staggered beat, voluminous square wave bass and plenty more besides. Really, the reference points in Cutler’s music are just that; warming, comforting reminders of some of the great ideas that inform modern electronic music, but it’s what he does with them that counts.
On the basis of this review, it could be easy to write off an album like this as derivative, but no-one can listen to the music itself and call it an imposter. Every track reeks of originality, whether it be the surprising track structures, the superbly detailed production, even the evocative imagery that the music conjures up. If you ever needed an album that felt like wide-eyed, innocent joy, this would be an excellent place to start.
1. New Colour
2. The Animal Pattern
3. As A Child (feat. Machinedrum)
4. Lying In The Reeds
5. Dragon Blue Eyes
6. Crystal Caverns 1991
8. Dream Girl/Sky Surfer
9. Earth’s Lungs
11. Stands Tidal Waves
12. Spirals (feat. Anneka)