Someone stop him! He's killing those poor synths!Brainfeeder, 2017
8.0 / 10
Lapalux‘s third album, Ruinism, explores that special place between life and death. Many of us refer to this place as limbo. And for the musical textures on Lapalux’s latest, this place is Ruinism. No matter that it’s not a real term, it makes sense in the context for which Stuart Howard, aka Lapalux, uses it. During the making of this album, he would “re-sample, re-pitch, twist and blend” his sounds until he ruined them. Maybe it’s an act that’s close to murder. However, no judge would convict Howard for creating an album so gorgeous and warm. Instead of his music sounding in pain or suffering from his diabolical torture, his compositions are at peace. They travel toward the light as serene as can be.
That could be the most fascinating aspect of Ruinism. Although Howard puts a lot of hard work into the destruction of Ruinism‘s sonic textures, they ultimately come through on the other side. Perhaps even stronger than before Howard ruined them. Howard recorded the album using only hardware and real instruments. This gives the album an organic but also futuristic style. Generations of musical styles clash often, but it works wonderfully as when the strings flutter about among the neon synths in “Reverence”. Howard also gets assistance from many stellar female vocalists including GABI, Louisahhh, JFDR, and Talvi. GABI appears on the excellent “Data Demon”. Here, she lends her operatic vocals while the music balances ’80s synths with jazz club horns. It feels epic yet very Lynchian as well.
Talvi jumps on “4EVA”, a wobbly experience if there ever was one. It’s almost as if Talvi is speaking clearly to us as we work through an inebriated stupor. Her breathy performance is a beacon that guides us forward out of the grimy darkness. Whereas Talvi’s performance sparkles over a romantic arrangement, Icelandic singer Jófríður Ákadóttir (JFDR) is haunting on “Flickering”. Here, Howard creates a backdrop that evokes the song’s titular flickering; a candle on the cusp of blowing out. JFDR repeats “Flickering” as the music seemingly burns out in a phffff of fuzz. Perhaps a result of too much ruin. But really, there is no such thing as too much ruin as we’ll be playing this album repeatedly the rest of the year.