mon 20/10/2014

CD: Lorn - Ask the Dust | New music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Lorn - Ask the Dust

Does a cold, Gothic take on the swagger of hip hop make sense?

Lorn's Ask the Dust: music for ghosts in lowriders

Though he first came to public attention via the Los Angeles-based Brainfeeder psychedelic electronic hip hop collective led by Flying Lotus, 25-year-old producer Lorn comes from “the middle of nowhere in Illinois”, and it's easy to see in his music a less sunny disposition than many of his comrades. Most of the Brainfeeder crew have a loose-limbed funkiness to their sound and an accumulation of sonic detail that speaks of heat and humdity. But while Lorn shares their aesthetic of complex rhythms that slip off the grid, there's something chilly and chilling about his industrial-sounding atmospherics.

His 2010 debut album Nothing Else was almost an ambient record, its rhythm sounds often just whispers in the background. Ask the Dust takes a dramatic step forward, with harsh drums (both programmed and “real”) foregrounded, with dub reggae-style echo emphasising their drama and huge subsonic bass notes underpinning their lurching progress. It's clearly influenced by British dubstep, but also brings in a Gothic take on the swagger of recent US hip hop – music for ghosts in lowriders and zombies with rusty bling.

And that hip hop swagger is what makes it: the sound pallette alone could simply suggest an update of the crashing neo-Goth sounds of acts like Nine Inch Nails, but the swing and groove that keeps it moving along turn it into something very new, a fresh cultural synthesis that might actually make you look anew at the sounds that influenced it. Not that it's a sociological exercise, though: this is music that, regardless of its provenance, gets under your skin, its eerie, crackly sound drawing you in and its creepy details emerging more with each listen.

Hear Lorn's "Everything is Violence" on The Arts Desk Radio Show

Watch Lorn's "Ghosst(s)" video


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