For a man who has always seemed extremely comfortable within his own well-honed aesthetic (perhaps to his detriment of late), referring to Until Then, Goodbyeas his most "mature" work to date feels, admittedly, like a pretty facile storyline. Whichever tale you choose, though, it's clear that this is a record that shows Lawrence making only half-turn stylistic twists that pay big dividends. Don't get me wrong: This is Lawrence, capital-L; still, he's rarely sounded so consistently graceful, whether beat-driven or wafting in fuzzy ambience. Containing several interludes and a more acoustic template, Until Then has the feeling of an assembly designed to coalesce, and much of the material almost seems to unspool live in the studio. Some of its haziest, silkiest ambient-house moments—the far-coast flashing lights of "Jill," or the celebratory samples and meditative piano of interlude "A New Day"—in fact slightly resemble the Mule family's other talking-point album artist from earlier this year, DJ Sprinkles.
But though the chances Lawrence takes are small—and perhaps hardly discernible before a little time is spent—they're significant. With their xylophones, bells and one-take sound, both "Father Umbrillo" and the excellent title track twinkle like an entire studio-full of tinkling, trembling glass, faintly recalling the digestible chunks of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. More spectral, "Todenhausen Blues" stumbles through spangled xylophone plinks and punchy acoustic drum hits before shadow-black synths begin to creep in at the edges.
Longtime followers fret not however. His beloved "Friday's Child" introduces the record—albeit in truncated form—and both the chubby, piano-flecked "The Dream" and the paranoid tonal swirl and dubby roll of "Don't Follow Me" will feel like cozying up with any of his early Dial records. But considering that earlier this year, several of us here at RA were wondering whether Lawrence hadn't begun to settle for carbon copies of his past, Until Then, Goodbye is a pretty welcome return for the producer. No sea-change certainly; rather a slow drift a quarter mile down the coast.