One thing is certain: six albums and 19 singles and EPs deep since his debut in 2008 – including a DJ-Kicks mix in 2017 (When will Fabriclive come knocking?) – Lone is nowhere near the end of his wits. Let’s take a look at the last ten years of Hyper Seconds and Airglow Fires!
Humble Beginnings: Kids In Tracksuits
Cutler started to produce music as a 10-year-old with a tape recorder and a keyboard. His skills received a bump when he got a computer and FL Studio at the age of 15. Adopting the elegiac moniker Lone, he and Andy Hemsley formed Kids in Tracksuits, a group that “started around ‘02 when a couple of Nottingham kids got too bored & lazy to go out on their skateboards anymore and decided to stay indoors with their Wu-tang records, making beats,
KiT’s tracks paired breakbeats with voice samples and scratches to create a soundscape, not unlike Def Jux releases, bass-heavy underground beats. Every now and then, there’d be a hesitant synth line in the middle of a boom bap jam like “Safe Place to Buy”, lifting its head from its earthy surroundings or an otherwise unremarkable run-of-the-mill piano beat like “Head to the Woods” would stop, drop and introduce a flute melody that’d take a listener onto a different plane of thought. The defining (and very listenable) song from that era is “Unfinished Demo”:
KiT had a short life-span and after they “had a couple of releases with Dealmaker, […] played about a million shows, did some radio sessions and got a bit bored with the whole thing” Lone decided to go solo in 2007, “partly due to the fact that I was making more music for myself and Andy was concentrating on graphic art stuff.”. His first project on CD-R, Everything is Changing Color, (you can get an impression on YouTube: “Piano Happy” at 32:50) is a rough, unmastered listen, yet it already hints at the decade to come: nostalgic, euphoric, synth-centered.
Lemurian (2008) & Ecstasy & Friends (2009): Easy-Listening Nostalgia
Everything you Do is a Balloon
It’s a soundtrack to an imaginary summer somewhere beautiful and dream-like, all recorded on to a cassette that’s been left on the dashboard, in the sun too long (source).
Ecstasy and Friends is by far no bad or boring album, though the tracks are far from complex, building on one idea most of the time. Lone was searching, reaching, one hit away from finding his musical identity.
Pineapple Crush (2010) To Echolocations EP (2011): Exercise In Exhilaration
Reinventing rave?! Who would have thought it possible? In a DJ box in some small nightclub somewhere in Britain however, Lone is re-writing the formula, one big hook at a time. And for that, we must thank him. (Source)
Similar speed, similar vein but dreamy: Once in a While, rated a 4.5/5 at ResAdvisor, made it Cutlers “most sought-after release” so far, kicking off Kode9’s DJ-Kicks mix with optimistic steel drums, acid-y bass and cowbells, laying an avenue of pure bliss in your consciousness.
Is third album Emerald Fantasy Tracks (2011) in the same universe as anything before? A fury of synth stabs and high-speed 909 beats, openers Cloud 909 and Aquamarine continue along the route of the previous two EPs, other highlights include Rissotowe 4 and Petcrane Beach Track. Lone sees the whole thing as more of a mini-album that shows what he can do with his favorite house and techno blends. No surprise that Pitchfork calls stone-cold Detroit classics to comparison:
Galaxy Garden (2012) & Reality Testing (2104): Rainforest vs. Metropolis
If there’s no one singing the words, I like to paint a picture with the titles to sum up what the track means to me. I like to push it as far as I can imaginatively. I basically just steal bits from poems and magazines, any obscure bit of a sentence I see on a page that really stands out. (Source)
The album is euphoric in nature, a celebration of being alive and the conflicting feelings that induce. Example: Lying in the Reeds. Listen to its careful build-up, a camera panning on an Asian temple, geishas with painted faces, cherry blossom trees. Introducing a starry, longing synth pad on top of the main tinkling chord progression, Lone twists the mood bit by bit until he pulls the beat from underneath us and we stand in a wide cave, pre-historic, pre-civilization, winds
As beat and bass return, we’re in the middle of an Ayahuasca ceremony around a campfire, feeling cleansed and drained and purified. It’s a testament to the psychedelic strength of Lone’s music that it takes the listener to places of primal, raw emotion:
Lying in the Reeds
Dozens of layers stripped down reveal the organic core of dayglo hip-hop that was Lone’s original mainstay. Reality Testing offers a coherent narrative from the hyper-percussive Restless City, last trace of Galaxy Garden, to the warm saw synths and cuts of Meeker Warm Energy and 2 is 8 and culminates in the wonky breakbeat hymn Airglow Fires that sounds like a dozen of windows simultaneously blasted open to irradiating sunshine:
By the way: don’t you agree that Scottish video mapping artist Konx-om-Pax sees the perfect colors for Lone’s reality?
Boiler Room Moscow
Levitate (2016) and Ambivert Tools Vol. 1-4 (2017-2018): Beyond The Jungle
There is always an element of recognition, which is why a late-phase jungle-revival like Alpha Wheel, one of the fastest tracks in Lone’s catalogue uses similar wispy synths as Ecstasy and Friends’ Go Greenhills Racer. Not everything is nostalgia-heavy as we are used to. Backtail Was Heavy comes equipped with a thick bassline and horn stabs at 145bpm to fade out into an ambient outro, much like the raver’s cycle of Sunday ups and Monday downs.
If Levitate is a distillation of everything that has made British producer Lone’s work great so far (Pitchfork), you can hear a fantastic example of multiple work phases amalgamated into one ambient-jungle anthem Vapour Trail
An ambivert is someone who is neither fully extrovert nor introvert which is an apt description of the 11 songs collected in the series. Here, Lone firmly lands in the terrain of house or DJ tools. Long tracks of six to eight minutes build slowly and serve for deep listening at home as well as being suitable for mixing in DJ sets. At times closer to ambient house, (Looking Glass) at other times both eyes on the dancefloor (Hyper Seconds), there is no reason these productions should not go in the crates of your favorite Panorama Bar resident, especially Vol. 4, a marriage of detail and patience.
Mind’s Eye Melody (Vol. 1)
While we hope that this introduction has sparked your interest to look deeper into Lone’s body of work, we equally hope it has opened your mind for electronic music styles such as rave, (happy) hardcore, jungle and ambient which rightfully live on even after their 90s heyday.
Anton Dechand is a writer, poet, and freelance journalist from Berlin. Equally obsessed by rap and R&B as by piano house and ambient, his first passion was to hear and to tell a good story. Catch his writing at medium.com/@antondechand