Having tinkered quite brutally with These New Puritans' Attack Music, and produced some truly beautiful, electronically affected euphoria in 2012's Pray and S&G, Deco Child (aka south Londoner Alex Lloyd) is back. He's spent his time since his last EPs developing a new, intimate feel to his music.
It's a startling turn, one which initially stupefies - as all positively charged, emotive music should – though once the astonishment is allowed to settle, what we're left with is Lloyd's most accomplished collection to date. It's a brand new take on electronic music, embodied into a record that's equal parts grace and guile.
Opener "Skinless Pt 1" plays off the subtle compositional simplicity of Nils Frahm's Screws and the gentle dexterity of Sigur Rós, and the result is as plainly cinematic and softly orchestral as the haunting minimalism of Ninja Tune label mate Jason Swinscoe. A ghostly, piano-lead intro gives way to a thudding, minimal beat and plunging bass, before bowing to a sun-flecked crescendo and a trademark, heart-pumping blow-out of euphoric strings, electronics and vocals. There's then "Heartbeats" – a silken palpitation fuelled by elegiac soundbites ("Sometimes my heart starts racing really fast,") lightly placed upon arresting and languorous keys. The whole thing performed with a nimble ability picked up during the 'Child's upbringings in electronica.
"Skinless Pt 2" meanwhile, with its spectral hanging notes and sweeping grandeur, is arguably the EP's doleful chef-d'œuvre, and is decorated with Ben Dodson's wistful vocal. Like an aggrieved groan of a floating spectre, transfixed by the teary-eyed waltz of a once beloved seen only through the fogged globules of a dangling chandelier. As you can tell, this an artist with a vision very much his own. "The less you change, the harder it becomes," the song grieves, before turning agitated; aggressive, even, around the four-minute mark, as frenzied sirens and acerbic breaks invade its innate tranquility. As schizophrenic as it is unequivocally stunning, vocally there are glimpses of Antony and glimmers of Patrick Watson located within this flittering, seraphic thing.
Having already garnered plays on Radio 1 and 6Music and cemented himself as a favourite of Lauren Laverne's, this is a welcome return for Deco Child. This is a release teetering upon the meeting point of the worldly and the ethereal, the organic and the electronic, with the techniques of each seamlessly intermingled with one another. It's the meeting of aged learning and a new and optimistic outlook; a meeting that's irrefutably inspiring to the ear that decides to lend itself.