Lone - Reality Testing

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  • After his string of retro-rave showstoppers—"Pineapple Crush" and "Crystal Caverns 1991" among them—it was easy to forget that Matt Cutler started out making dayglo hip-hop. That influence reared its head with last year's "Airglow Fires," combining the showy 3D textures of his 2012 album Galaxy Garden with the shuffle of his older work. Reality Testing, Lone's sixth album, is also remarkable for its hybrid nature, mixing Detroit techno with golden era hip-hop, and replacing his usual sugar rush with the amble of a wizened artist. Reality Testing sounds like waiting room music from the year 2040. It's almost inhumanly perfect: just clock the way he handles the punchy brass section on "2 Is 8," which has just the right amount of edge to avoid melting into smooth jazz mush, but is still graceful and velvety. "Aurora Northern Quarter" channels the ravey piano of Emerald Fantasy Tracks into a cushy, early '90s hip-hop vibe. And though everything is gleaming with that coat of cosmic wax that Cutler has perfected over the years, Reality Testing feels more organic than his past work. The drums on "Restless City" and the trickling piano on "Jaded" sound like they're in the room with you. Most of these tracks average between three and four minutes, like they would on an instrumental hip-hop record, so the repetitive riffs never wear out their welcome.  Glints of the old Lone are still here—like the quivering arpeggios of "Vengeance Video," which flattens out into straight house for its final minutes. Itchy-footed closer "Cutched Under," meanwhile, recalls his collaborations with Machinedrum, and suggests that Cutler can't keep in one place for too long. But he comes closer to sitting still on Reality Testing than he has in a while. The album may lack the tireless rush Cutler honed so well in the last few years, but everyone needs a break once in a while. Instead, it shows him settling into a state of deep contentment, evoking the same warm and fuzzy feeling you get from throwing on a record that you know inside and out.
  • Tracklist
      01. First Born Seconds 02. Restless Cities 03. Meeker Warmer Energy 04. Aurora Northern Quarter 05. 2 Is 8 06. Airglow Fires 07. Coincidences 08. Begin To Begin 09. Jaded 10. Vengeance Video 11. Stuck 12. Cutched Under