Thursday, 22 January 2009

NYC Establishment Rate Lukid

"Wonky" seems to be the genre on everyone's lips at the moment. Popularized by the omnipresent Steven Ellison (a/k/a Flying Lotus), it is what electronic music has been stop-starting and attempting for years now -- the post hip-hop hybrid. In 2008 it came of age, losing the Prefuse 73/Machine Drum nerd-chic and replacing it with a Dilla-lite funk sheen and an eccentricity which was hard not to fall for. Sure, Dilla might be spinning in his grave, but artists such as Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and Samiyam are pushing the genre just that little bit forward, blending a love of Slum Village productions with chiptunes, dubstep and crunk, and ending up with something all of their own. Lukid's Luke Blair was there before most, and his debut album, Onandon, was a shocking statement of post-Dilla machine funk. The Dabrye comparisons were maybe justified but Blair had pre-empted a burgeoning genre, and we have waited since to hear where he was going to take it. Of course, it would be too easy to out-wonk himself on this sophomore effort, so what does he do? Well, something completely different, of course. Blair may be very young but he's clearly got an encyclopedic musical knowledge as he traipses through ambient, jazz, minimalist hip-hop and twisted electronica on Foma. I would be loath to even bump this into the same spot on the shelf as Fly-Lo or his eager followers -- there's something just that little bit more horizontal about Fomaand an openness to experimentation which is fresh and alluring. It's almost as if Blair is dying to try his hand at anything; there's jazz ("Laughin"), dubstep ("Chord"), electronica ("Foma"), and even hints of acid (the incredible "Slow Hand Slap"). We would seem then to be having a much needed progression in this fledgling scene and instead of retreading old ground, Luke Blair has shown us that there's more to wonky than a copy of Fantastic Volume 2 and an MPC. With Foma, he has given us a hugely enjoyable collection with more than a swing and a bassline, and what more can we ask of him than that?

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