Given that UK speed garage had its roots in New York and the experiments of luminaries like Todd Edwards, it was a pleasingly circular development that NYC-based FaltyDL put together last year’s best garage release in his Love Is A Liability album. Since then, his Bravery EP upped the head quotient, teasing apart his intricate beat programming to allow darkness into gaps in the mix, and his Party 12” for Ramp was a gorgeous piece of slow motion melancholy, almost diametrically opposed to its title.
So it’s good to hear that his recent flurry of one-offs has shown a continued restlessness in approach. His remix of Eprom’s ‘Never’ picks up somewhere near where Bravery’s ‘You Made Me Feel So Right’ left off, all angular rhythms and delicately sliced breakbeats. There’s more than a little Vibert/Squarepusher in his attitude to percussion, which manages to pull off the impressive trick of sounding both loosely sloppy and clinically precise at once. Despite sticking fairly closely to the source material’s sound palette, the effect of each track couldn’t be more different – the original a razor-sharp slice of funky-infused house, FaltyDL’s rephresh a dark and brooding asymmetric groove. His remix of The XX’s ‘Islands’, on the other hand, pares the rhythm back to its barest components, leaving the original vocal untouched over churning bass and interlocking layers of percussive noise.
Most impressive is his latest batch of new material. In my recent Short Circuitry piece for Muso’s Guide, I mentioned Adam Harper (of the rather excellent Rogue’s Foam blog) and his presenting the process of ‘wonkification’ as something separate from any specific genre. Just as new music from genre-defying artists like James Blake and Ikonika goes some way towards vindicating that idea, FaltyDL’s constant rewiring of established dance music forms feels like something very similar. Less recreation than reimagination, on the All In the Place EP, released on Rush Hour, he takes on a greater house influence than before and twists it into his own distinct shapes. And the results are pretty spectacular, the title track in particular offering an abstract but dancefloor-ready journey through melodic house territory that sounds like no-one but FaltyDL. Which has always been one very interesting aspect of his music – despite taking on a range of different styles, his process of writing generates music that sounds uniquely his: deconstructed but energetic, and with a cunning ear for musicality. On rolling garage track ‘St. Mark’s’ his beats display the same magnetic properties that were so obvious on the Bravery EP. Each percussive element constantly attempts to escape from the force field holding it to the others, generating a restless and unstable energy that threatens to collapse at any time. The fact that it never does serves to ratchet the energy almost to breaking point.