Neil Landstrumm
Lord For £39

By Kone-R

Having been an admirer of the work of Edinburgh’s Neil Landstrumm since his early recordings for Peacefrog in 1995, I had high hopes when it transpired that, after a number of excellent albums for Tresor, he was signing to Planet Mu. The resulting long-player, Restaurant of Assassins, took him in a rather different direction though — gone were the wonky techno wobbles of such classic albums as Brown By August and Understanding Disinformation, Landstrumm was now immersing himself heavily with the various UK bass scenes: dubstep, grime and breaks. Whilst his production sounded more accomplished than ever (he has always maintained a healthy range of shiny boxes to play about with, even on stage), that album didn’t quite strike the chord with me that he had always managed with earlier efforts, so when on first listen Lord For £39 seemed to smack of rather more of the same, I was disappointed. Some quality time later though and it’s clear that this album is a rather different proposition.

As on Restaurant of Assassins, Landstrumm has drafted in a few guests to help out, this time enlisting the likes of UK bass master Si Begg, long-time collaborator Tobias Schmidt (Ah, Sugar Experiment Station! Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!), Ebola, and the mysterious but thoroughly amusing Carlton ‘Killawatt’ Valley — and as a result this album feels a bit more diverse. There are standout bass tracks (Old Rabbits, £20 to Get Home and The Dose particularly worry my bassbins), but it’s the moments in between that really grab me — Shit Daddy Bass puts a smile ‘pon my face and Little Help From Rustie is just insanely funky hip hop. But the big winner is The King of Malta, with its ethereal melody, soulful keys and understated rolling breakbeat; it’s totally at odds with the rest of the album, and is a perfect foil for it.

Like all true innovators of electronic music, Landstrumm has decided well in advance where he’s going to move next and is steadily perfecting the transition. While he’s carrying it off to a large degree and can in no way be accused of jumping a bandwagon (the sound is still pretty unique, if no longer instantly identifiable as Landstrumm), I still can’t help but pine for the days of Praline Horse and Swing/Jerk — perhaps if he combined some of that early immediacy with the more technically advanced work of recent years, that could make for a record of legendary proportion. Apparently this album is ‘about being a baron on the cheap’ — maybe he needs to dig just a little deeper into those pockets to truly Lord it over the electronic music fraternity.
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