Available on: Planet Mu LP
From beginning to end, Drew Lustman’s second album as FaltyDL draws you in and swallows you whole, submerging you into a world full of emotions, hidden meanings, flashbacks to times gone by and possible futures. In a recent interview with Martin Clark, Lustman discussed at length the emotional process behind this album, and evidence of this is clear from the first listen.
You Stand Uncertain is many things: a coherent album of dancefloor-minded electronic music (no mean feat in this day and age), a statement about the past, present and future of rave and its continuum and an insight into the mind of one of the most interesting producers to have emerged from dubstep’s worldwide rise to popularity. By this last statement I don’t mean that FaltyDL is a dubstep artist per se; rather that his music, for me, seemed to originally owe much to dubstep’s rekindling of its 2step roots and still does. The ghostly swing of classic 2step is still present on You Stand Uncertain, albeit in a more mitigated way than on his debut, Love is a Liability – this time round, the swing co-exists with more percussive, at times harsh, drum programming and break chopping as well as mellower, soothing 4×4 house vibes. Also present is another ghost of dubstep’s past, its often overlooked roots in jungles. Maybe the uncertainty hinted at in the title refers to the album’s shifting influences and hints of classic hardcore, rave and junglistic moments. It’s the kind of uncertainty modern music needs more of.
A particularly fascinating aspect of You Stand Uncertain lies in its use of classic samples, and the references these create in the listeners mind, willingly or not. Martin Clark called it a “Russian nesting doll of samples and signifiers”, in the interview aforementioned. Let’s (jokingly) call it post-post-modern; after all, there was always going to be a time by which the academically discussed post-modern element of sampling would itself become prime material for a new generation of producers to pillage. If sampling helped create feelings of euphoria and post-modern significance in the first generation of sample-based music, then what about the feelings evoked by the output of a new generation of producers who grew up with sample-based music and feel comfortable pillaging it for their own needs? How do you explain the feelings that Falty’s recontextualisation of old hardcore records, the Apache break, classic rave stabs and the Reese bassline, among others, evoke? Rave has come and gone, yet its impacts are still far reaching. It’s probably more than the average listener might think of, but it bears considering when evaluating Uncertain against the myriad of other music out there today, churned out faster than you can Google it.
‘Open Space’ is a prime example of what I mention above, a track that crams in a large amount of references while remaining perfectly enjoyable as a piece of music, with no need to further analyse it. At first I thought Falty had relifted Massive Attack’s flip of the Mahavishnu Orchestra vocal sample, yet after some research, it turns out to have been from a hardcore record called ‘Hold Me’. In some ways, this mistake speaks volume about the potential of sampling in post-rave dance music, and how effectively Falty exploits it on this album.
‘Lucky Luciano’ might well be the record’s finest moment, a percussive love letter to the halcyon days of rave and early jungle which Lustman admits to still being fascinated by. With more than a hint of the Reinforced aesthetic to it, if some post-jungle tag were to emerge, then it could do a lot worse than to take this track as its template. The reality, of course, is that there is no need for further post-anything to emerge, rather a need for education and understanding of the roots that producers like Lustman find inspiration in, and how these can be transposed to today and used to create beautifully enjoyable moments such as ‘Lucky Luciano’. And then you have ‘Voyager’, a haunting slow-mo house jam that wouldn’t be out of place in a Theo Parrish set.
Despite its title, You Stand Uncertain holds many certainties; the main one being that producers like Lustman are needed more than ever today to help map out electronic music as it emancipates itself from its late ’80s and early ’90s roots and continues to connect with a generation of listeners’ whose points of reference are often wildly different to those of the people making the music. There’s a potential for timelessness in this album, but that will only be ascertained by those making this judgement 20 or 30 years from now. What’s more important is the emotional potential this record holds thanks to its author’s attempt to place himself within the shifting sands of modern electronic music, looking at the past for inspiration and comfort while at the same time hinting at possibilities that make me shiver with anticipation.