About Jay Ames

Listening and writing.

Lone – Galaxy Garden

lone-galaxygardenGalaxy Garden

Matt Cutler, “Lone”, is a producer from Nottingham England who draws major inspiration from Madlib, Boards of Canada, and Bibio. He is one of the lead artists on R&S Records, a progressive Berlin-based label that features eclectic and forward-thinking musicians such as Tessela and Paul White.

Galaxy Garden is an outstanding album. I can only think of one album similar in concept and structure to Galaxy Garden – Hudson Mohawke’s 2009 album ButterBoth draw heavily on the themes of nostalgia and childhood, using catchy, repetitive synth melodies that invoke 90’s video game sound tracks – see track titles such as “Crystal Caverns 1991” and “As a Child”. Both albums are imbued with a certain summery, upbeat vibe that shines through the album like sunshine through the leaves of a palm tree.

The difference between the two is attitude – Hudson Mohawke is decidedly fidgety and manic as he jumps quickly across tempo and style, jamming themes within themes to craft a dizzying patchwork of sounds that threatens to explode from internal pressure. Lone on the other hand is always in control – he creates smooth, dreamy landscapes from foreign-yet-natural chord progressions, perfectly blended and timed vocals, and tempo-consistent drumwork.

Hudson Mohawke is silly and delirious in his excitement and happiness. Lone weaves his upbeat energy into more subtle and dance-able tracks. These contrasting attitudes were sharpened in subsequent stylistic explorations. HudMo began producing some gut-wrenching trap music with Lunice as TNGHT while Lone paid homage to his more down-tempo, hip-hop, jazzy, skate-culture soaked roots in latest album Reality Testing – which is also an excellent album, just not one suited for the dance floor.

So what’s next for Lone? In his own words: “With ‘Galaxy Garden’, I got obsessed with wanting everything to be super bright and artificial and ravey, and as colourful and synthetic as I could possibly make it,” he explains over a cup of coffee, “And, as with every project I do, I get obsessed with it – and then just get bored with it…I’d love to put out something that’s completely beatless, like an ambient record. But it’d have to be beautiful to capture people’s attention. I wouldn’t want to put out, like, a double album, or anything like that. It might not work, but I’m definitely into the idea.”

Lone is one gifted musician – I’m looking forward to whatever he decides to put out next.

01 | New Colour
02 | The Animal Pattern
03 | As a Child (ft. Machinedrum)
04 | Lying in the Reeds
05 | Dragon Blue Eyes
06 | Crystal Caverns 1991
07 | Raindance
08 | Dream Girl/Sky Surfer
09 | Earth’s Lungs
10 | Cthulu (ft. Machinedrum)
11 | Stands Tidal Waves
12 | Spirals (ft. Anneka)

Buy Here – Amazon ($9)

CunninLynguists – Strange Journey Volume 3

cunninlynguists - strange journey vol 3

Strange Journey Volume Three

As the name suggests, Strange Journey Volume Three is the third installment of the sideproject-esque “Strange Journey” series that the CunninLynguists tend to put out between releases of their standalone albums.

Formed in 2001, CunninLynguists is a well-respected and oftentimes visionary group that has matured in skill and confidence through countless hours in the lab and on tour. Their standalone studio albums tend to push the envelope in terms of production and thematic content, presenting concepts that are light years ahead of their peers. A Piece of Strange (2006) explores the twisted paths that lead to and from sin, delving into the dark world of vices in a slightly more nuanced way than most contemporaries, say, Lil’ Wayne on his track “Pussy, Money, Weed”. The album Oneirology (2011) forms a smoky web of dark and expansive sound around the loose concept of the dream world, attempting to pierce the opaque vale that separates our ideas and dreams from everyday reality. It’s safe to say that there is no lack of inspiration and gravity behind the typical CunninLynguists project.

The “Strange Journey” series is a perfect complement to these highly cerebral standalone albums. They are present-day throwbacks that pay homage to an earlier time, featuring MC’s like J-Live, Del The Funky Homosapien, and Masta Ace over punchy, dusty, cinematic beats that Kno seems to have reclaimed from the golden era of hip-hop. Humor plays a much bigger role throughout this series, making it easier to understand how such a highly conceptual and forward-looking group could’ve settled on the name “CunninLynguists” all those years ago. In the song “Drunk Dial”, Murs and Grieves explore the poor decisions that come with drinking, jealousy, regret, and sexting:

I hope you black out before you do anymore damage
I checked your timeline, homie…why you Tweetin’ in Spanish?
I understand if this is what you gotta go through
But when you sober up I got some screenshots to show you
And Grieves, bro…you gonna be hella happy that all of them texts didn’t go through

The interludes (which I find to be filler on most albums) are hilarious: a female robotic voice gives periodic updates on the failure of the crew to find any “empathetic and intelligent life” on planet earth, concluding instead that we have become “bigger idiots than we were before we arrived”. She comments on how she finds the mission boring, and would rather “hit the club, pop a molly, and twerk something for a real nigga”. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and that’s really refreshing in a landscape saturated with gigantic egos and pissing contests over status, fame, money etc.

Of course, there are very profound and serious moments to be found throughout the album, most notably in J-Live’s heart-felt lament over the baroque, monastic beat that backs his verse on  “Beyond The Sun” . Aesop Rock & Sadistic discuss the loneliness and meaningless of life on the track “Castles”, delving deep into the isolation and despair that comes as we build walls around us to protect against emotional injury. Through the highs and lows of this album, Kno’s production remains a constant. You will not find a boring, meaningless beat behind any verse in Strange Journey Volume 3. The man is a genius.

It’s worth noting that many of the decisions behind this album were crowdsourced. The group polled fans on Facebook, asking them who they would most like to see on the album. They shared content from the studio, soliciting feedback and involving listeners in the production of the album. For a more focused, conceptual album, this approach would undoubtedly create a cesspool of disjointed ideas. But the resulting diversity of lyrical skill, gritty humor, and general debauchery on Strange Journey Volume 3 is simply stellar.


01 | Ignition
02 | Strange Universe (ft. Del The Funky Homosapien)
03 | In The City (ft. Zumbi of Zion I)
04 | South California (ft. Tunji)
05 | Drunk Dial (ft. Murs and Grieves)
06 | The Morning (ft. Blue and Psalm One)
07 | Innerspace (ft. Toby)
08 | Miley 3000
09 | Guide You Through Shadows (ft. Substantial and RA Scion)
10 | Castles (ft. Aesop Rock and Sadistik)
11 | Kings (ft. Sheisty Khrist)
12 | The Format (ft. Masta Ace and Mr SOS)
13 | Dying Breed
14 | Makes You Wanna Cry (ft. Sheisty Khrist)
15 | Beyond The Sun (ft. J-Live)
16 | Mission Assessment
17 | Urutora Kaiju (ft. Tonedeff)

Purchase Here (Bandcamp – $7)

Max Graef – Rivers of the Red Planet

max graef-rivers of the red planet

Rivers of the Red Planet
Max Graef

Genre: Electro-Funk, Jazz, Hip-Hop
1 Minute Read

Rivers of the Red Planet is a beautifully crafted soundscape that draws heavily from all of the right sources. Jazz, hip-hop, and house influences  are prominently featured, and give the album its rhythmic pace and sultry style.

Every single song on this album contributes to the character of the work as a whole, which Graef masterfully suggests and complements with the beautiful cover artwork. He manages to evoke emotion with songs like “Running” and “Jane” while keeping you in the head-nodding groove of jams such as “Drums of Death” and “Vino Rosetto” which are irresistibly funky and infectious.

This album is an absolute gem and will undoubtedly stand the test of time. Enjoy!

01 | Intro
02 | Itzehoe
03 | Superswiss (Skit)
04 | Running (ft. Wayne Snow)
05 | Jazz 104
06 | Tamboule Fudgemunk
07 | Quackeljochen
08 | Ohne Erdung
09 | Mullholand Drive
10 | Drums Of Death (ft. Labuzinski)
11 | Vino Rosetto (Album Mix) [ft. Labuzinski]
12 | Speed Metal Jesus
13 | Büchsenöffner
14 | Jane (ft. Wayne Snow)
15 | Medley Of The Drifter
16 | Outro

Purchase Here (Boomkat – $10)