[Ninja Tune, 2013]
Nick Torsell, January , 2013
Listen: “She Sleeps”
Andy Beta’s “The New Electronic Brooklyn Underground” article for Pitchfork delights in the scene happening under our noses, mutating quickly. Here’s something you could take part in every weekend, instead of looking wistfully at European clubs like Fabric and wondering why we could never have something like that in the States. New York City’s own Drew Lustman, FaltyDL, and his new release on Ninja Tune, Hardcourage, is reminiscent of the bright sounds of Four Tet’s There Is Love In You, a churning kaleidoscopic American take on take on a bursting UK dance scene.
Much like his 2011 album You Stand Uncertain, Hardcourage is omnivorous in its influences. The album skips from lush house tracks to the sputtering futurism, the likes of Kuedo’s excellent Severant. The switches aren’t jarring, instead they mirror fragments of a night, the rush of a new location and feel of a space that can be exhilarating rather than restless. FaltyDL mentions in an interview with Self Titled Mag, “…this album is a love letter to my lady, in addition to the addiction of being in love. Not entirely lust, but the chase of it all; I had to wrap my head around the journey and not hold anything back, let it all out in this record.” That love is easy to see on “She Sleeps.” It’s an assured but joyous take on domesticity, featuring the only traditional use of vocals on the album, provided by Friendly Fires’ front man Ed Macfarlane. “She Sleeps” is steeped in bright drums and synths, creating a blinding foundation for Macfarlane to coo over.
Switching to a slower pulse on “Straight & Arrow,” reminiscent of Kompakt’s discography, the track is more meditative than the blood rush of “She Sleeps.” “Straight & Arrow” winds around a cut up vocal sample, a method that I wish would have been featured on more tracks, as its use here opens up new spaces for him to play around with. It’s the most assured track on Hardcourage, the track with the most to dig through.
“For Karme” begins more like a cold dystopic track than the love song he alludes to in his Self Titled Mag interview, “The figure that shadows above all this was this woman… I was initially apprehensive to put on ‘For Karme’ but it’s on there for that reason solely.” It’s only when the drums come in around the minute mark that the track sweetens around a bright synth line. If this was the album’s heart, it’s also the most forward-looking track on Hardcourage, the least indebted to the influence of dance music decades past.
Releasing Hardcourage as an album instead of a collection of singles is risky. The album is a rock move, while dance music has traditionally been the world of the white label 12”, one track a side. Even artists who have excelled in the album format, like Burial and Four Tet are retreating back into world of the 12” release process. That a young producer like FaltyDL excels in the trickier album format is a testament to his talent. There is some filler, like the misplaced stuttering synth funk of “Kenny Rolls One,” but those are easily forgiven in the context of the album’s highlights, like the stunning intro to “Uncea” or the Detroit-Techno repetition of “Finally Some Shit/The Rain Stopped.” Hardcourage is exciting not just for its accomplishments, but also for what the future promises for the 26 year old.