Lapalux has a way of fitting an astounding number of elements into his productions. It's something he proved on 2011's Many Faces Out of Focus EP, and in the subsequent remixes that have populated his Soundcloud page and, incidentally, our own downloads section. When You're Gone, the Essex-based producer's debut EP for Brainfeeder, sees Lapalux only continuing to refine his techniques, molding and shaping his seemingly neverending array of ticks, chops, and blurps into even more concise packages as his compositions become more song-like in structure.
From the onset of When You're Gone, Lapalux immediately dips the listener into a sea of textures—rainfall, a far-off conversation, bells, strings, and massive, swelling electric piano chords begin the effort on "102 Hours of Introduction." It's an apt primer for the world he's about to open, one where beat-centric productions share the same space as hyper-detailed snippets that have been cut, spliced, and compressed into every conceivable corner. Tracks like "Moments," which features an inviting (albeit thoroughly manipulated) vocal performance from Py, take shape as true songs around the fury of smaller sounds, landing at distinct sections and movements. It's not a verse-chorus-bridge type of formula, but there are plenty of markers that stick in your memory, such as Py's sultry "I remember" vocal refrain or the funky, vocoded melodies on "Yellow 90's."
The tracks here rarely venture outside of a half-time feel, revolving around the 110-120 BPM tempo range, with the beefier elements—chords, bass, and drums—acting colossal in presence but always remaining slow-moving, which leaves gaping spaces for everything else to fill. Before, Lapalux productions may have filled these spaces with mostly percussive elements such as tuned toms, stick hits, and off-kilter hats, but this EP throws much more vocal manipulation on top of the textural percussion. For instance, the effort's lead single, "Gutter Glitter," reaches an almost James Blake-like soulfulness within its heavy-handed production, as Lapalux warps and hangs raspy, R&B-indebted vocal runs around the steady beat.
From a production standpoint, When You're Gone is a simply stunning effort, one that is continually intriguing and constantly surprising. Beat-minded programming nerds and aspiring producers should take note—this is how you balance crafting impeccably intricate tracks with making poignant music. Truthfully, there are a few lulls to be found—"Gone" and "Construction Deconstruction" pale in comparison to their better-executed counterparts—but the EP's remaining pieces overshadow these two instances thanks to their meticulously built and unceasingly warm production, which remains worthwhile for listen after listen.