Packaged in a minimal black slipcase, Nothing Else‘s noirish instrumentals are
sonically just as zipped-up as the jacket suggests. Illinois-based producer
Marcos “Lorn” Ortega closes off his paranoid beats before anything
runs too long, and the slim set here is as rich with spooky string sections as
it is with rumbling synth bass. Hovering around the 2:30 or three-minute mark,
each track is short and sweet, eventually touching on both Breakupdown-era Ghislain Poirier’s work as well as the fruits of
the now-hyperactive West Coast beat music scene, where Flying Lotus combs demos
to pluck a worthy entry for his Brainfeeder label.
Prophecies about turbulent economies and unlawful wars
from an underground MC aren’t needed on Nothing
Else; Lorn’s harsh, clapping drums and 8-bit patterns sometimes offer as
dismal a portrait as you can get on their own. When it isn’t as dark as
midnight, though, Lorn’s album is glitzy, stewing in dense instrumentation.
Violin-driven melancholia curls over frazzled
breakbeats for “Cherry Moon,” while “Bretagne”
plays out as its stomping counterpart on Nothing
Else, with UK
grime-like synth stabs and an emphasis on deep bass. Lingering in the low end
is a regular theme on the LP, and Lorn’s affinity for bass-and-bleeps and
horror-flick organs mirrors that of Gaslamp Killer, with whom he partnered for
a recent Low End Theory podcast.
Lorn’s early 2010 remix of producer Deru’s
“Peanut Butter & Patience” added spastic sci-fi blurts and
guttural bass lines. He avoided sacrificing the well-oiled split of techy
experimentalism and hip hop sensibility at its base, and Nothing Else‘s “Greatest Silence” evolves almost in the
same fashion. In the track’s mash of analog and digital tones, you get the best
of what’s happening in 2010’s circle of forward-looking beatmakers. Buzzsaw
grooves, markedly warmer keys, and clubby prodding culminate in a tease that
could prattle on for hours. But Lorn, in line with his frequent displays of
keen editorial discernment, clips it at just the right juncture.
Standout Tracks: “Cherry
Moon,” “Greatest Silence” DOMINIC UMILE