New York based producer Drew Lustman aka FaltyDL, has been skating on the edges of electronic music for the past 4 years. Making impassioned musical leaps from one genre to another, taking in techno, garage, house and even jazz in his formative years. His first 2 albums, 2009’s Love Is A Liability and 2011’s You Stand Uncertain were well produced but slightly confused affairs. However it seems with his third full length offering, Hardcourage, Drew Lustman has finally found the confidence to settle on a sound he is comfortable calling his own.
Hardcourage opens with the playful, 80s inspired, Stay I’m Changed a retro-futuristic house tune, which skips along with the help from booming, stadium shaking drum fills and a lead line which, strangely, brings to mind ‘Axel F’. This retro feel is complimented by atmospheric pads and highly polished chord sequences. This playfulness continues throughout the album Track two, She Sleeps chugs into life before a rapid metamorphosis into a shuffling house number, featuring ethereal vocals from Friendly Fires front-man Ed McFarlane. All of this is underpinned by chopped musical and vocal effects creating a lush and open sound-scape. Third track Straight and Arrow is a gorgeous slice of minimalist electro-funk, which brings to mind a meeting between Lone and Mr Scruff. Once again FaltyDL uses reversed and torn up vocal samples, together with finger clicks and bouncy synth stabs to create a shuffling and stuttering aesthetic.
Hardcourage begins to change shape and evolve as For Karme’s understated electronica melds with trip-house, creating one of the highlights of the album. This evolution continues with the distinctly Flying Lotus-esque Finally Some Shit/The Rain Stopped with its backwards masked musical samples and shuffling, clicking, machine like rhythms, dark harpsichord bottom end and butchered vocal samples. It is here that FaltyDL is really testing our pre-conceptions of what this album is and he as an artist is capable of.
If Finally Some Shit/The Rain Stopped is the dark rain soaked train journey then the following track, the aptly titled Kenny Rolls One is the magical trip through a fairylight strewn winter wonderland. This is where Hardcourage finally straps on its dancing shoes and gets its groove on. The underlying darkness brought forth through the menacing pads near the beginning of the track, give rise to the feeling that we are on a journey and the darkness of the preceding tune can be seen slowly vanishing into the distance. It is with Kenny Rolls One that Hardcourage yet again performs a metamorphosis and becomes a somewhat lighter and more fun place to be. The fantasy land theme continues with Korben Dallas. Strange bird-like effects punctuate the beginning before transcending into almost chiptune territory. This is underscored by the returning menacing bass and synths but is equally complimented by house stabs and the now familiar locomotive rhythms.
The closing two tracks Re-assimilate and Bells take the tempo back down a notch, Re-assimilate conjures up a relaxed and dreamlike state utilizing choral samples and hopping lead lines, which are complimented by soaring atmospherics, creating another standout moment in the electronic pilgrimage on which FaltyDL has taken us. Whilst Final track Bells, is possibly the best track on the album. Orbital style synths, chopped and filtered sax samples aped convincingly by the synth sequences, simple but highly effective one-two kick drum rhythms, bringing the record to a beautiful and upbeat close.
In the process of writing Hardcourage, Drew Lustman got himself a girlfriend and as Lustman himself put it ‘she became my muse’. It appears that Love was the key for Lustman to create his most cohesive and satisfying album yet and long may he continue on the musical road he has found himself on.
Rating 8/10 – Love is a liability no more.
FaltyDL – Hardcourage – Out Now on Ninja Tune