Lunice – CCCLX
Lunice channels an intense sci-fi compositional style into his debut long player, giving a raft of contributors room to breathe along the way
Inspired and committed to dance in all forms, CCCLX introduces Lunice as an expansive, high-minded producer that takes his art seriously. The Canadian producer is perhaps best known for his contributions to the rowdy EDM duo TNGHT, a collaboration with Hudson Mohawke that effectively capitalized on a fashion for Hollywoodized trap. Citing Madame Butterfly and old horror movies as inspiration, Lunice’s solo debut is less of a frat party than a fashion show gone feral.
Although he doesn’t completely leave TNGHT’s maximalism behind (there’s no booming trombones or festival-size drops on CCCLX), Lunice instead channels an intense, sci-fi compositional style into fast-paced cuts like Drop Down, and Distrust. The PC Music ringleader SOPHIE lends his signature bubble and squeak to the former release, over which the underground provocateur Le1f adds rhymes.
There are unexpected turns on this relatively brief debut – maximum impact, maximum results could be his modus – but occasionally the enthusiasm crowds the album with ideas that may be better suited to a multi-disc epic. It’s clear Lunice has tried to transcend the visceral pull of electronica to create beats suitable for a DJ or an armchair connoisseur. See the smoldering arpeggios in Mazerati, or the futurist-classical transition from O.N.O into CCCLX IV (Black Out). Distrust turns on a heel midtrack, deconstructing hip-hop into static, geometric elements splayed over an underlying footwork feel.
Lunice wisely gives ample room to his collaborators. As impressive as the beats are in their complexity, a special mention is necessary for the MCs who deftly weave words in between Lunice’s polyrhythms. The relatively unknown CJ Flemings stands out as the rapper most comfortable with these jagged rhythms, and Syv De Blare lays a lounge-y croon over straight house on the closing number, a sharp foil to the cold, club violence Le1f yelps on Drop Down.
The album’s four part title track – CCCLX (Curtain), CCCLX II (Intermission), CCCLX III (Costume), and CCCLX IV (Black Out) – channels the dramatic immediacy of ballet, gospel, opera, and vogueing, an ambitious mix of theatrical forms held together by skeletal beats. These tracks give the album a decent sense of narrative, which Lunice alludes to when he presents his work as a “theatrical showcase”. Thankfully, like an efficient predator, Lunice prefers to demonstrate his ability to kill some meaty beats, and leaves the metanarrative discourse to the scavengers, critics and commentators.
Listen to: Drop Down, Distrust, O.N.O