Though he partnered with Luciano himself for the flinty minimalism of the Family EP on Desolat last year, Loko's perhaps best known for his juicy Border Community-anthem "Big City" with Ripperton as Lazy Fat People. Fittingly then, at first glance, much of his debut LP, Seventynine, attempts to torque Cadenza's minimal aesthetic in a more classically melodic direction, toward the lilting shimmer of Warp or Dial Records. It's certainly not one the label hasn't flirted with before—just a quick revisit of Loco Dice's Harissa reveals how intimately the two can blend. Opener "Sidonia," for example, glints more than it shines, with wispy bells twinkling against sputtering percussion, while "Love Harmonic" melds bubbly tribal drums with another subtly emerging melody based around shy strings and drowsy, melancholic bell patterns. Adding to the record's sense of summer-eve drift are the two beatless interludes, "Astral Vacuum" and "Altrove," where Loko laces strings into soft, blurry reveries that towel the heat away from his steamier creations.
But it's precisely when Loko really lathers himself up into long-form stormers where Seventynine loses its identity. Many of its ideas seem desperately second-hand, as though Loko was trapped by the idea of making a "Cadenza" record. "Takhtok" contains two day-late, dollar-short designs: clips of a children's chant AND woozy Bulgarian folk song bits. Though Loko's patience and relative reserve keep it from "Enfants"-style largesse, the track still feels a bit crude and worn. "On Fire"'s bursts of white noise and siren shrieks aim for disorientation while settling for annoyance—a challenge Luciano himself met far more nimbly on his own Études Électroniques EP (one of the label's most overlooked and outwardly "psychedelic" releases). Elsewhere, the stubby wood-block patters, basso vocal samples and squeaky strings of closer "You Know Where" may be a little too mannered for its desired effect, warming without ever really burning.
If ultimately there's too much of merit on Seventynine to couple it with Cadenza's disappointing debut LP, the album's internal sense of voice and narrative is often hard to decipher. Sometimes consistency is more curse than boon. Two full-lengths in, Luciano's label is struggling to maintain the potency of its singles and many double-packs on its albums. But word has it that the man himself has a full-length due out later this year. Maybe just hold onto Seventynine 'til we're damn certain.