by Ed Collings-Wells
If ever one needed renewed faith in electronica, FaltyDL’s Hardcourage is the record to turn to. Rarely is an artist’s third album so full of energy and focus. Hardcourage, released earlier this year on Ninja Tune, is FaltyDL (Drew Lustman)’s revival opus; an exciting, personal venture into the jazzy and delicate territories of dance music. It’s also the result of his falling in love and as such, his muse adorns the album’s artwork in the form of a colorful, abstract illustration.
Given Lustman’s concept-rich new material, it seems fitting he has joined British electronica wonder-kid James Blake on a North American tour. Last week, in Vancouver, Lustman creeped out onto the stage of the packed Commodore Ballroom, in an unassuming, almost gawky fashion. He sat at a small wooden desk under a single spotlight, lowered his head into his laptop, and then proceeded to let rip on a five-minute psytrance opener, a polyrhythmic hash of hi hat, jungle drums and glassy pads. Sonically, at least, it’s a full-on entrance.
There are ethereal moments of ambient electronica tonight, but these mostly give way to house beats and pleasing elements of trip. Besides conjuring vocal loops into unrecognizable sounds, this is largely an instrumental set, very much built on the strength of morphing individual sounds.
There is always something a little uncomfortable about DJ sets at band gigs – the audience stare expectantly, waiting for a performance, some interaction – but nevertheless there is genuine appreciation for Lustman’s no nonsense, head-down producing chops, and the crowd’s dancing belies the fact that he is static, transfixed on his MacBook. Tonight Lustman proves that it’s beats – not bravado – that really matter.