- Matt Cutler bore a style all of his own with his debut album as Lone. The shimmering collection of hip-hop tempoed instrumentals that made up Lemurian—an aural tribute to a sun-ripened Neverland best illustrated by cover art featuring a striking blonde whose mirrored sunglasses are as much filled with palm trees as they are obscured by lens flare—hinted at a producer who was working emphatically within his comfort zone. Peeling layers of sound away from sample sources and meshing them with classic synthesized chords and simplistic drum patterns, his work was so heavily laced with a particular sound set that it caught the ear of Werk Discs boss Actress, who duly signed him to his label for a second album.
Ecstasy & Friends, as you might expect from its title, further exploits Cutler's talent for sun-drenched beat-strumentals, exposing once again the positive vibes he exudes so easily. "Sungrazer Cascade" is a knowing stomp coloured with shards of a synthesizer that bobbles in and out of earshot as if it were being hastily cued on a channel fader by an overzealous DJ, with the disjointed waltz that the erratic wash creates sitting perfectly atop the stuttered rhythm. "The Twilight Switch" and "Love Heads" pounce on a more straightforward melody provided by flittering strings, the former echoing their pitch with thick pads that eep out a sense of foreboding before the latter swells up into a twisted loop that gets pounded with big kick drums and bass that resonates like a didgeridoo.
The album feels like it is at once as much of a throwback to the rich and joyful workings of pop bands like Huey Lewis & The News as it is to the catchy computer game melodies that were forever ingrained into the developing brains of children in the '90s. It's the mood, along with the very similar sample sources, that makes Ecstasy & Friends a cohesive and rewarding listen. A track like "Karen Loves Kate," the lead giveaway "single," surmises this perfectly: It's a colourful swirl of reversed pan pipes that get peppered with a lead line straight out of an early Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack and a beat that stumbles along underneath, hitting hard with each kick drum. It's an almighty clash of ideas and sound palettes. But when shoulder pad bass patches go toe-to-toe with crystalline Moog riffs inside this Nottingham-based producer's computer, we're all winners, graciously basking in the rays of his happy-soaked beats.
01. To Be With A Person That You Really Dig
02. Sungrazer Cascade
03. Paradise Backyard Jam
05. Waves Imagination
07. The Twilight Switch
08. Love Heads
09. Karen Loves Kate
10. Go Greenhills Racer
11. Apple Hi