It’s almost inevitable by now that most people who have scratched the surface of electronica and IDM will have come across at least one reference to or example of the work of the prolific Lackluster and a summary of his discography of released works to date would take too long to adequately flesh out here. Suffice it to say that the full length albums released on U-Cover, deFocus and Merck, the countless EPs and singles for a multitude of labels, not to mention myriad mp3 releases for Monotonik et al have all been suitably eclectic and hugely creative affairs.
I’ve never found remix compilations particularly engaging. The end product of such compilations is often a rather scattershot jumble of incompatible styles, moods and textures resulting in a rather disjointed, jarring and disorienting product. That’s not case with Remixselection_one, a collection of remixes by Lackluster spanning the period 2001–2004.
Lackluster has no problem at all stamping his individuality on each of the remixed works presented here. There’s little mistaking the warm, bright, analogue synths and melodies that simmer within the ‘no arguments at all’ remix of EEDL’s “Too Few Arguments” as anyone other than Lackluster’s. The same is true for the fluttering, fluted chirping of the ‘lackluster 80bpmmx’ mix of Proem’s “Standard Naming Convention” or the glittering FX showers and sun-drenched atmospheres of the ‘lacklustermx’ of Manta’s “Sitting Pretty.”
Even the ‘Keep Still Its Your Achilles Heel’ mix of Mantra’s “Dream With The Fishes” with its defocused strings, pads and washes is only set apart from the Lackluster style by it’s unusually epic length.
More interesting still is Lackluster’s talent with vocal driven works. The ‘unreliable llmx’ of Korpi Ensemble’s “Rely” is easily one of the most impressive tracks here. His other works with vocals, including the other Korpi Ensemble release that didn’t make it onto the compilation or, most notably, the wonderful but sadly unreleased “ll180402”, with it’s dubby, Orb-like undertones fused with catchy pop sensibilities, further strengthen this theory and, in this reviewers opinion, rank as some of his finest work to date. One can only imagine what a full album of vocal works from Lackluster would be like.
There are also one or two more experimental works included, most notably the cut-up, clunking and reverberating ‘lackluster caseQQ’ mix of Lord Fader’s “Chase HQ” and the unusually structured remixes of Multiplex’s “Rock Robot.”
The compilation ends on a real high note with the ‘laa laa lacklustermx’ of the always dependable Sleepy Town Manufacture’s “Latatoo.” Already a beautiful ambient piece to begin with (and originally released on the Monotonik mp3 label) this is a cornerstone of what makes Lackluster’s music so engaging. Esa first adds melodic layers, 8-bit bleeps and fractured percussion to the swathes of heavenly pads that characterized the original, and then abruptly assaults the track with a drum and bass rhythm for the best part of a minute before stripping it away again to a slow dissolve.
Remixselection_one is a fascinating compilation that provides an alternate window into the work of Lackluster and, like his other releases, comes very highly recommended.
Remixselection_one is out now on Psychonavigation Records.