Review: fLako – Eclosure

For a while now, fLako has cast a modest shadow over the radar of contemporary electronic music. Though he’s a figure noted for stunning crowds with the mercurial wizardry of his live vocal sets, he ever-remains an artist who is too readily slept on. The strength of his new release, however, is reason enough for the listening world to rouse from their slumber. What we get on Eclosure is some of the most sumptuous material Dario Rojo Guerra has put out to date. The record is a rich slurry of impeccable sound-design that seems to share its cues from the same sourcebook as the forerunners producing out of the Brainfeeder camp, the mighty LA axis around which most off-beam beat-music now inevitably turns. Having said that, the material on Eclosure is by no means derivative.

The lugubrious opener, Honey Drips, drifts like a narcotic boat-ride through the humid waterways of some tropical underworld, urged forward by the slow pulse of a steady oarsman and the crack-whip snare of his master. An onboard minstrel, Dirg Gerner, looks across the brown water and warbles a melancholic tune against the tin-can percussion that echoes off the dripping canopy above. Steadily the water rises. The journey finishes in a shower of venom-tipped synth-arrows that sail through the trees to lash the composition with a wild symphonic finish. Any impressions that this was going to be just-another-beat-tape have been exotically dispelled. And we’re only one toon deep. Out of the muggy grip of Honey Drips comes a dainty flute and probably the best track on the record. Still inhabiting some kind of warped ecosystem, Mating Dance is pitched against the chirruping flutter of woodwind and the breathy chorus of vocal fragments. Again, everything is so expertly mixed down: surging brass gives way to a snake charmer’s horn whose majesty is almost comical. Before you can titter at the opulence of it all, fLako reins it back in and throws down a thumping 4/4 breakdown in the Caribou vein: deftly layered and irresistible to follow. The sequence is fully fleshed with jungle yelps, a dancing analogue synth and, last, the reverb-drenched moan of fLako’s own vocal line. A true dose of musical hypnosis. If this is his Mating Dance then this man’s bedframe is all notch, no post. Next track, Lion’s Mane, is a grower. Much meeker in tone, it flourishes here and there around a plinking circuit of melodic glockenspiels and bright synths. Gerner’s swoony vocal blends nicely with the soundscape but the words remain a sliver saccharine. Title-track, Eclosure, however, is a solid point to close on. After a shuffling percussive introduction over sighing vocal snippets, the track soon drops into a bending groove held tight by half-time head-nod drums and snappy hats.

It’s fair to say that nearly every stroke on the EP reflects Guerra’s capacity for weaving together the most compelling collages of sound. Never a sparse moment, the constituent elements in his production always find themselves in constant dialogue with each other. His handle on blending melodic segments into captivating synergy plays testament to his natural affinity with the live stage. If you’ve not been lucky enough to see him perform his rousing live vocal set then this is no better a place to start; Eclosure is tender earmilk for those wanting a little more spirit in their headphones.

 

Will Davenport

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