Music is in the midst of a revolution that is both extraordinary and banal in its familiarity. That a new generation of producers now has (almost) the complete history of music available to them at broadband speeds is both commonplace and a profound rupture. Never has there been less reason to learn an instrument or use hardware. Instead, increasingly, the issue for producers is how to process, evaluate and redeploy the torrent of available material.
On paper, the Wolverhampton duo Letherette's response is punkish. Using familiar techniques—Hudson Mohawke's choppy mutilations, Avalanches' mosaic sampledelia, Thomas Bangalter's filter house—they break '80s pop and R&B into near unidentifiable fragments, with which they then build their own fidgety edifice. But for the first half of their debut album, they are too in awe of their source material. Their tracks go through all that process, yet have the same unthreatening, upbeat tone as their '80s inspirations, which seams weak. Whether you're Kid606 or Rustie, if you're going to pick over popular culture's corpse, you have to do so with a certain scepticism or bring some sort of new insight.
"D&T" typifies that meekness. It echoes The Field's dreamy, bustling loops, but it doesn't follow through. Axel Willner over-clocked his sample source ('80s soul) until it was reborn as a kind of epiphany. The tone here, in contrast, is aggravatingly slight and breezy. Until, that is, we hit "Gas Stations And Restaurants," where upon you are suddenly enveloped in a narcotic haze of exhausted lo-fi R&B. It suits Letherette.
In fact, the further they drift from the dance floor, the more interesting they become. "Cold Clam," "Hard Martha" and the sun-dappled closer "Say The Sun" stem from the lineage of emotionally bruised trip-hop that links Howie B to Nicolas Jaar. Too often, Letherette is synthetic and manufactured, but in those slower, stranger moments it feels like the real deal.
Buy Letherette - Letherette at
Tracklist: Letherette - Letherette 01. After Dawn
04. I Always Wanted You Back
05. The One
06. Gas Stations and Restaurants
07. Cold Clam
10. Space Cuts
11. Hard Martha
12. Say the Sun
13. Film Music (Bonus Track)
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