On Werkdiscs / Ninja Tune
Lukid is a producer from London who makes all manner of electronic music depending on what kind of mood he’s in. Sometimes it’s quite fast and angular, other times it’s warm and blurry like summer rain. He has previously released two albums on Actress’ Werkdiscs label - Onandon (2007) and Foma (2009) - and with new album Lonely At The Top, he’ll make that three on 22 October 2012.
The lighting bolt for Lonely At The Top came in the form of a bag of home-taped cassettes he found on his street a year and a half ago. Among the haul were classical recordings, a few language tapes and one marked DISCO. Having just started playing around with recording stuff to tape with an old hi-fi, this was one of those funny little coincidences that some would call fate. “Tape has a way of making things sound sad,” he recalls. Listening to those tapes set the wheels in motion for "Bless My Heart". A low, slow funk track, it set the tone for the album: a little spooked but shot through with hope.
It was made using an old Dell laptop, a Macbook, a couple of synths and a tape machine. Claiming to know “nothing about the technical side” of things, Lonely At The Top is the first record Lukid has made without any creeping worries about professionalism. “I just thought, if it sounds good then that’s all that matters,” he continues. “I would record things back and forth and mess with the same sound so many times that by the end it was a complete mess and totally distorted.”
That sense of freedom runs through the album. Its arc is geographical, tracing landscapes, stirring up buried memories and giving shape to ideas of places. “I like albums that are put together like a film,” he says. “So it has ups and downs and keeps you guessing.” The foggy, faintly industrial plains of "Manchester" provide the backdrop to the titular sample which was picked out from a Japanese language tape. "Snow Theme" paints a soft white-out scene, with the rush of calm that chases it. Like a gentle call to stir slumbering workers to their posts, "USSR" has both a familiarity and warm regretfulness to it that stings and yet was named after a level in Street Fighter II.
Perhaps that’s the most moving thing about Lonely At The Top: the tension between the playful titling and its teasing presentation of this mournful music. In listening, there is an intimate sense of closeness, a feeling that situates the heart in the throat. And yet there is that tongue-in-cheek title, chosen because it made Lukid laugh: “It clearly doesn’t apply to me.” But then sometimes funny is the saddest thing of all.
Lonely At The Top is a deeply moving, absorbing album, and without a doubt Lukid’s finest work to date.
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