Friend of the blog, Niall Lancaster, has done a pretty good job of keeping some great music from the public sphere for quite a while now. The caliber of his work has steadily increased from all sorts of sample-based electronics to an idiosyncratic take on house, particularly through the use of textual extremities and dark undertones, the likes of which sound alien and yet not unwelcoming. His latest instalment consists of two mixes of one track ‘Fuck What the Stars Say, We’re Compatible’ (his track names are probably some of the best I’ve ever seen in the ‘Of Montreal’ vein, personal highlight being; ‘Masculine Enough To Cry At The Notebook, Secure Enough To Dance With a Gay Man’).
The first mix is a complex and progressive slow-builder, with every corner filled by a motif each more interesting and catchy than the last. With five or six sections and clocking in at just under 9 minutes, this is Niall’s longest track to date by quite a long way. However the second mix, dubbed ‘LAME VERSION’, is actually my favourite of the two, and by contrast has a very stripped-back minimal approach - bouncing the snares and vocal stabs off a chord sequence that ebbs and flows throughout the mix. There’s a contemplative calmness running throughout, reminiscent of work from The Knife siblings, Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson.
Both mixes bring to mind Scuba’s latest album, ‘Personality’ due to an undeniable nod towards the 80s sound. Something about the catchy vocals snaps, jiggy bassline and reflective strings makes them markedly summery, nostalgic and ‘feel-good’. However, Scuba also comes to mind largely due to the production, which is frankly, immaculate. Every hit fills just the right amount of space in your head, and despite the intricacy of the rhythms (particularly in the percussive breakdowns) the mix is never weighed down by the amount of layers being played. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that Niall studies sound production; it feels as if this level of sound quality can only come from years of practice, being taught by professionals, or in Niall’s case, both.
If, like me, you’ve started compiling a playlist of ‘summer vibes’ for the next few months, there’s no excuse for excluding either of these mixes. I genuinely can’t imagine anyone finding it difficult to get down to them because of how instantly appealing they are. Basically, everyone blatantly needs to hear this on a system, so if there are any labels reading, contact Niall, release these track, play it out at a club and invite me, thanks.