Lustwerk has since struggled to live up to our imagined version of him. Not that his music has got worse; it hasn't changed much at all, which is kind of the problem. Road Hog's bumping house aesthetic has remained attractive and mostly static across three years and four releases. Under the Galcher name, only 2013's Tape 22 convincingly built on the mix's promise. Others were cagey (2014's Nu Day EP for Tsuba) or belated (two EPs committing 100% Galcher tracks to vinyl didn't appear until 2015).
Coming four years after his dazzling debut, there's not much on Dark Bliss that we haven't already heard. But once you've set those sky-high expectations to one side, it's nice to hear it all again. There are the gnomic lyrics in honeyed spoken word ("Red Rose"'s "I got a red rose / And I'ma throw it in the trash" could be the 21st century analogue of "For sale: baby shoes, never worn"). Some tracks drift into Road Hog's themes and sounds, such as "I'm In The Coolest Driver's High," with its pensive chords and late-entry vocals, and the instrumental "Lithuanian Water," which is lost in moody cruise control, its smooth forward motion slowly lapsing into stasis.
There's also a decent batch of vocal house tracks in the classic Galcher mould, each combining louche house drums with cloudlike pads, buried funk low-end and those trademark vocals. "What U Want Me To Do" and "Yeeno" are energetic but light; "Yo"'s cushioned slouch is sleepier. All three could've held their own on 100% Galcher. They're counterbalanced by a couple of mild surprises. "Catamaran" sounds like a Galcher beat in chaotic meltdown, and beatdown closer "Dark Bliss" gets mileage out of ramshackle percussion and lithe live bass. The latter is the album's best track, and also symbolic of the whole. Galcher, as is often the case, finds himself trapped in a recursive life of leisure: "Need a cold drink, so I made one / All I do is play the same old game, son." Maybe those endless glimmering vistas hinted at in his music are actually a closed loop—and maybe that's not such a bad thing after all.