When British producers manage to break away from the inexorable house music tunnel vision that so commonly plagues them, they tend to leave a respectable mark on whatever other genre lands in their crosshairs. Rich Lonbay A.K.A. Daktyl captured the attention of bass music tastemaker Diplo with his ambient, experimental brand of chill trap/midtempo/future bass, and as a result, his Cyclical LP came out through Mad Decent. The ambitious body of work ultimately marks the starting point of Lonbay’s journey to perfect his own unique sound, and as evident as his efforts to that end may be, to declare that he’s arrived at his destination is to give the album undue credit.
Play any track on the LP and you’re struck by the ripples from a sea of inspirations. The intro track, “Legacy,” features bright, effervescent synth work that slowly builds to a luminous peak before anticlimactically dumping into the LP’s title track – a midtempo groove driven by world music samples and vocals by SPZRKT. Next is “Haze,” a trappy, upbeat trip-hop track that adheres more to the typical buildup-drop scheme than those that came before it.
By the fourth track, “Lazy Suzan,” you begin to recognize a pattern. Each track presents a single theme with little progression to speak of; it’s almost as if Lonbay could have stitched two or more of them together in order to yield more compelling results. When techno legend Aphex Twin did the same thing, he got away with it because it was the ’90s and what he put out sounded like nothing else out there, but electronic music needs more than simply lending itself to edits to hold up in today’s market.
“Forgettable” breaks the pattern. Alternating verses and choruses by vocalist Evan Mellows give the listener a necessary break from the avant garde musings of the tracks that preceded it. If any song on the album has a shot at radio play, it’s this one.
And from that point on, Cyclical really picks up steam. “Nevada” is easily the strongest title on the LP. Understated instrumentals that channel post rock bands like Porcupine Tree or Portugal the Man lead into obscure audio samples and juxtapose synths, resulting in a novel cacaphony of noises that seems to follow some extraterrestrial scale. If there’s a sound that Lonbay ought to explore further, it’s the one captured in “Nevada” – if for no other reason than because nobody else is doing it.
“Mind” and “Stay” are tied for first place in the “most easily categorized” category, as both tracks feature the dreamy hallmarks of future bass – which has surged in popularity as an increasingly sophisticated generation of EDM fans outgrows the visceral adrenaline surge of hard kicks and bass drops. The change of pace helps the listener coast to a stop after some of the LP’s more challenging moments.
Make no mistake about it, Daktyl is a producer to watch. Artists credited with pioneering their own unique sound – such as Pretty Lights or Troyboi, for instance – started out experimenting just as Daktyl has been before striking gold, and with support from the likes of Diplo, he’s got resources at his disposal that will help him refine his style in the years to come.
Dactyl shows promise as a game changer in the bass music realm of EDM, but his experimental approach hasn't yielded anything profound as far as the Cyclical LP is concerned. However, it would still behoove electronic music fans to follow his releases in the coming months.