Stuart Howard, better known by his alias Lapalux, is changing the way we listen to experimental electronic music. He seamlessly weaves together his niche genre, UK bass, with lush LA beats creating sounds previously left unheard. After signing to Brainfeeder, headed by Flying Lotus, he’s made waves in maximalistic music, focusing on raw sounds and real-life circumstances, connecting us listeners in a collective imaginative experience.
Over the course of the last year, Lapalux bestowed us with release after stunning release of EPs and remixes, finally giving us his debut album Nostalchic earlier this month. After the album dropped, Lapalux noted on his Facebook page that he wrote Nostalchic for listeners to make love to with each other. This mood became heavily evident within the first few tracks in the LP.
Lapalux’s rippling melodies invoke surrealistic, pictorial soundscapes languidly drifting through space. The LP opens with a winding, screeching tape, interwoven with real-world sounds and ethereal vocals, setting the theme for the rest of the album. Howard follows his intro with the single ‘Guuurl’ from his most recent EP, Without You. It takes us on a dark, destructive sexual journey with the vocalist crooning words of desperation and despair.
Coming off the UK heavy bass sounds, Howard turns towards an acid jazz feel mixed with LA beats, blending his regional influences together. While it retains a sense of consonance and comfort, the intermittent glitches and distortions are slightly jarring. He gives us ‘One Thing’ as a foundation for this sound and uses his featured vocalist, Jenna Andrews, to bring out a dreamily sweet quality to the LP as a whole.
The new direction taken from the Without You EP forced Howard to re-work ‘Swallowing Smoke’ and ‘Without You’ to have the LP flow cohesively. Howard takes ‘Swallowing Smoke’ and makes it more upbeat and light hearted, creating a playful atmosphere as a track fitting in the overall theme of love making music. The body rolling drums and bass lines serve as his second wave of seduction-based tracks in the LP. Quickly pulling out of the warmer vibe Howard set up earlier, he throws us back into an introspective sensuality felt in ‘Without You.’ He uses the album version, included in the EP, to dissect and elaborate upon his feelings of destruction, evoked in the murmured lyrics, “haunted by the forces that suck you in, / that pull you in, tight. / And your words are engraved in me, / so long as guilt resides here, / covered in the walls in writing / …I did not want you to leave me.” The use of downtempo, heavy yet simplistic synths, and a bass line that sends tremors through to your toes accentuates the desperate plea heard in the lyrics.
‘Straight Over My Head’ takes on the depressing notes from ‘Without You’ and almost disappears into the background. The popping synths and strong dynamic changes are overwhelmingly emotive and painful, making for a much heavier atmosphere for the LP. ‘Dance’ has an interpretative dance connotation to it, with the vocals and lyrics being blurred to the point of being unrecognizable, the only exception being the repetitive question, “do you want to dance?” Following this, ‘Dead Sea’ forces us to want to fall into an eternal sleep, drifting through miasmal oceans. Howard then begins to re-introduce the acid jazz elements set up in the earlier tracks to bring the LP back to full circle.
Closing out Nostalchic with ‘Walking Worlds’ and his tape outro, he takes us back to LA beats and sweeter melodies. As a sex-centric concept album, he expertly crafts a wave of moods ranging from sweet to all-consuming destruction, born from obsession and longing. Nostalchic as a whole is subtle and well-crafted, fitting in well with the Brainfeeder circle and leaving us wanting to make more love.