With instrumental hip-hop currently undergoing something of a renaissance, Marcos Ortega becomes the latest established name to join Ninja Tune's increasingly bass-orientated roster. At the time signed to Steven Ellison's LA-based Brainfeeder imprint, the Illinois-hailing youngster came to prominence in 2010 via the sensory nature of his debut album, Nothing Else. Now, with 12 new productions, comes his sophomore album.
Ask the Dust, named in tribute to John Fante's cult 1939 novel, is purposed to depart from the self-described "cold and strict" confines of his previous output. Reminiscent of Company Flow's hard-edged instrumentals, this progression is immediately evident, with "Mercy" and recent B-side "Ghosst" opening proceedings in a visceral grid of slamming percussion. The tempo soon eases with the industrious soul of "Weighing Me Down," while "The Well" almost constitutes a cross pollination of The Neptunes' brand of neo-funk and Demdike Stare's A/V scores. "Dead Dogs," "I Better" and the muscular single "Ghosst(s)" all mark further highpoints, with the ethereal swirl of "Chhurch" being particularly immersive.
In a short space of time and arguably, in part owing to Ellison, Lorn has established himself as a closely-watched and respected glitch-hop player. Ask The Dust largely justifies this newfound status. In addition to its moments of sledgehammer impact, those in possession of a decent sound system with the patience to study the meticulous intricacies involved, will be duly rewarded. Its obfuscating mires of navel-gazing perhaps precludes it from attaining Ninja Tune classic status, but those of a darker disposition will likely be of the opinion this challenging opus collates Ortega's strongest work to date.
Tracklist: Lorn - Ask the Dust 01. Mercy
03. Weigh Me Down
06. Everything Is Violence
07. The Well
08. The Gun
09. Dead Dogs
11. I Better