Lando Kal "Let You in the Sky" b/w "Help Myself"
Like so many producers of his generation, US-born Berliner Antaeus Roy (a.k.a. Lando Kal) has steadily edged his sound from idiosyncratic beat experiments toward the clean, linear lines of house and techno. In the late '00s, Roy began releasing music as half of duo Lazer Sword, and alongside Bryant Rutledge (a.k.a. Low Limit), put his name to glitchy, lighthearted takes on hip-hop production. The duo has since grown a bit more serious, as this year's Memory LP formed a sleek adjunct to Jimmy Edgar's brand of stylized electro. Roy's solo work, meanwhile, has consistently honed in on a slightly wonky tech-house template. He further explores that sensibility on "Let You in the Sky" b/w "Help Myself," his first release for the fledgling Icee Hot label. (Full disclosure: Icee Hot is run in part by XLR8R editor Shawn Reynaldo).
"Let You in the Sky" recalls the lithe, streamlined bump of Cosmin TRG (Roy's one-time labelmate on Rush Hour's Direct Current), as it's an exercise in squashed economy. The track alternates between free reverberation and taut, down-to-business jacking; on the latter tack, its chattering, pitch-shifted vocal is tied to a bulbous, divebombing synth. Montreal's Grown Folk trades its skip for a stomp, and swaps in a chugging bassline in accompaniment. The remix's optimistic melody lends it more pop appeal than the original, but in doing so also removes some of its claustrophobic complexity. On the frenetic "Help Myself," Roy throws snatches of a funk bassline and faded chords at a blunt thud. Like "Let You in the Sky," it's enriched by the alternating tightness of its elements, but its finale is considerably messier, with organ stabs, handclaps, unhinged vocals, and a g-funk line all competing for attention. Anthony 'Shake' Shakir gives it a typically brain-bending mix, as Roy provides him with ample material to make his own. Shakir inserts rolling hand drums, searching, high-pitched drones, and a deep, squelchy bassline, but most notably, he shifts the titular vocal phrase ("I just can't help myself") into a throaty, inhuman screech, something like Danny's intonation of "redrum" in The Shining when he freaks out and writes the word on the door. As elements pile around it, the track starts to feel like a demonic rite, a grave, knowing nod to the dark side of hedonism. Finally, "So Correct," a digital-only track, takes a page from Shake's book, as Roy persistently filters a looping set of chords and intersperses them with quick vocal cuts. Using a strict grid, it sounds like a modern take on any number of tracks from the Frictional Recordings catalog. Like Shakir, Roy has transformed his hip-hop roots into svelte dancefloor gear, and he only seems to be improving.
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