Atmosphere reigns supreme on Nostalchic, the lush debut album from UK-based electronic producer Stuart Howard, a.k.a. Lapalux. Weaving elements of deconstructed R&B, soul, hip hop, and jazz with his astral, deeply textured production, Lapalux galvanizes a gorgeously infectious mood. Lopsided beats stutter and spin over layers of warm, airy loops. In the hands of a less-experienced captain, the weight of these multiple layers would sink the ship. But Lapalux skillfully adds and subtracts each layer to craft one of 2013’s most exciting electronic albums.
The Essex-born producer’s navigation of complex mixes was illuminated when his shot-in-the dark email to electronic label Brainfeeder was immediately answered by label head Flying Lotus. The introduction led to Brainfeeder releasing a pair of Lapalux EPs (When You’re Gone and Some Other Time) in 2012. The matching of Lapalux and Brainfeeder is a perfect pairing. Lapalux tugs on tempos and deconstructs his beatcraft, characterizing Braninfeeder’s aural aesthetic.
Nostalchic pushes this aesthetic into a deeper R&B evolution by marrying ethereal, ghostly vocals with soulful beats. The result is simultaneously beautiful and haunting – romantic yet gorgeously creepy. Standout track “Without You” (featuring Kerry Leatham) exemplifies this Lapalux mood. Over a melancholy R&B synth loop, Lapalux speeds and slows the vocals to create tension and conflicting emotions of heartbreak and splendor. Even in its quietest moments, “Without You” declares its emotive power.
Several of Lapalux’s songs suggest Nostalchic may be a landmark album that changes future R&B much in the same way DJ Shadow’s Entroducing shaped a generation of instrumental hip hop. Tracks such as the aforementioned “Without You,” “One Thing” (featuring Jenna Andrews), “Guuurl,” and “Flower” showcase Lapalux evolving R&B into his celestial world of lopsided beats and sexy, ethereal layers. The bar has been set with Nostalchic. It will be interesting to watch its impact.
Nostalchic is out now and available on vinyl, CD, and digital download from Brainfeeder. Get tour dates and more Lapalux news on the Lapalux website and Facebook page. In the meantime, stream “Guuurl” from Nostalchic at Soundcloud: