Second Storey - Lucid Locations

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  • Lucid Locations was borne of personal and political upheaval. Last year, Alec Storey, AKA Second Storey, spent the summer at his parents' cottage, in Suffolk, where part of the LP was recorded. In that period, his sense of dislocation was compounded by the UK's decision to leave the European Union and the withdrawal of fabric's license by Islington Council. Storey wrote three "very angry" tracks—"Ajunlei 8," "Offbeat World" and "No Such Location," all of which make the cut here—in the days following the club's closure. They touch on techno, electro and UK club music, sources that Second Storey has never explored with as much tangible feeling as on this LP. Other tracks bear this frustration more stoically. On "Covehithe," named after a beach in Suffolk that Storey visited as a teenager, synths cascade over glimmering chords, trembling bass and dense, granular layers. It doesn't evoke a sanctuary so much as the bleak beauty of an English coastline. There's a similar quality to "Dartmoor Four," in which fibreglass arps are soothed by a soaring harmony. Tracks that reference and evoke harsh natural landscapes convey a distracted solace. A feature of Storey's music has been its attention to detail. "When Al's making a beat, he gets that thousand-yard stare," Appleblim once said of his friend and collaborator. On a track like "Manhattan To Moscow," that focus is invaluable. The drums, sampled from street drumming recorded in New York, hare along at 155 BPM. Vocal snippets—gasps, Russian-language speech, a Samuel L Jackson sample—punctuate the fluid rhythm. The simple arps of "Moesha Moved To Margate" or "Acute Angles" become, thanks to canny harmonic layers, dramatic and energising. As a whole, though, the LP can seem uptight. The Drexciya-esque "No Such Location," for all its excellent accents, suffers for its unsatisfying melody. The "Offbeat World" and "Wherever You May Be," whose rolling snare patterns echo UK funky, are wrought with tension that has nowhere to escape. The issue, though, is less about specific tracks than a general fatigue that such complex beats can bring. There are simply too few hooks or hummable melodies that a lighter touch might've made possible. Should club music influenced by distress be fun? Perhaps not, and Lucid Locations's most ably realised tracks aren't hedonistic. "Barrel Roll" is typical of the LP's emotional conflicts. It rages with discordant noise, but its bleeps and harmonies swell with sombre feeling. Lucid Locations is rich with ambiguity, of being caught between states. It's an authentic response to an increasingly uncertain world.
  • Tracklist
      01. Moesha Moved To Margate 02. Manhattan To Moscow 03. Covehithe 04. Offbeat World 05. Ajunlei 8 06. Acute Angles 07. Wherever You May Be 08. No Such Location 09. Barrel Roll 10. Dartmoor Four