A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Ninja Tune
Release Date: 6.18.12
4 Fans Of: Glitch Mob, DJ Signify, Amon Tobin/Two Fingers, Bristol, Brainfeeder, Instrumental Hip-Hop, Downbeat leftfield electronics, Staying up late, Graffiti
Ask The Dust was this Wisconsin’s producer’s second release, moving over to the infamous and classy Ninja Tune, fine purveyors of all things downbeat, after a successful debut of Brainfeeder.
Ask The Dust is the sound of a man getting down with his machines, freeing himself from the cargo net of computer quantization to make something fierce and free. He talked about his first release, Nothing Else, as being ‘cold and strict’, whereas this record is “haunted, oily, smeared”. In short, everything we like.
Ask The Dust occupies the same nocturnal purgatory as Burial’s Untrue, manipulating the circuitry to make a record that is genuinely HUMAN, if cybernetically so. It’s like a ghost haunting an MPC. Ask The Dust is full of menace, romance, wistfulness, violence. It’s a harrowing listen at times, to be sure, best suited for headphone somnambulists and sadistic DJs, but those that know the darkness can better appreciate the light. In this case, moments of sublime beauty in the form of soaring heavenly strings, offsetting the Marianas Trench breakbeats and slowed, slurred speech (a recent introduction into Lorn’s toolbag).
When this was first released, some critics regarded it as ‘just another dubstep album’; i cry bullshit! Those scribes don’t know shit about dance music or DJ culture. Some people seem to think that if you’ve heard anything remotely like what yr listening to before, if it is in any way derivative or wears it’s influences, than it’s rubbish. This way of thinking is leading to a non-stop turnstile of #genres that last two seconds, buried while they’re still breathing. I mean, sure, Vaporwave is kind of a ridiculous concept, but who knows if some young auteur could make something masterful and lasting, within the format, if critics were not so quick to pronounce it dead.
Lorn has assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the last decade of bass music, to turn out something personal and heartfelt. It’s like a rare bird that has learned to excel in it’s specialized habitat.
Let me tell you, because i know you want to know:
1. Lorn’s beats kick like sherman tanks.
2. His melodies are beautiful; haunting.
3. The production is crystal clear and sharp, sounding ill as a plague ward on both headphones and loudspeakers.
What else could you want out of a beat-oriented record? Ask The Dust is perfect for night time contemplation, planning a raid or aiming to seduce. He has drawn the best parts of Glitch-Hop (the muscular beats), Trap (it’s trapper than trap. He’s showing the kids up), and Hauntological dubstep (faded reminiscent melancholy). It will appeal to all fans of the darker hues, those that wear all black, but love to dance.
I put ‘Weigh Me Down’ on my last mix, and plan on putting ‘Diamond’ on the next one. ‘Ghosst(s)’ would also be a good place to begin, with its combination of growling double bass and tectonic kick drum. It could be an outtake from the last Haxan Cloak record, and we all need more of that in our lives!!!
Part of the reason i started this project was as a way to talk about music that is more than 2 seconds old, that is still worthy of attention. Basically, i want to write about what’s been rockin’ my boat recently, and share some of the epiphanies and insights that twelve hours of daily listening delivers. One of my goals is to support quality record labels, and Ninja Tune has been delivering the goods for decades, continuing to evolve, and that deserves a tip of the top hat. Ultimately, this space will act as an archive, an aesthetic cross-pollinating stone circle, and as a theoretical library. The web is spreading, azure crystal clarity descending. So much good music; so much time to write about it.