Did you ever wish that the soundtrack to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a solid backbeat to it? Well there seems to be just as much inspiration from an illegal slaughterhouse as there is from Daft Punk on Ask the Dust, the first release on the Ninja Tune label from Milwaukee artist Lorn. It may be easy to lump all electronic dance music together these days, but this is definitely not the album that will be inspiring the wearing of candy-necklaces anytime soon. Embracing a far more sinister presence than that of his peers, Lorn crafts a 45-minute unified piece that forces the listener to embody the warming darkness of their subconscious as they crush the dance-floor. Don’t be afraid though, Ask the Dust is wholeheartedly beautiful.
The album starts out with distant melody lines being owned by a devastating bass crunch, making the first few tracks sound like the far-off echoes of a dub-step apocalypse. On “Weigh Me Down,” one of several tracks that Lorn sings on, his vocals somehow ideally mesh with this formula, either despite or because he sounds like Tom Waits on sleeping pills. There is a sense though that on these early tracks, his bass-focus seems to be reaching out to an EDM crowd that doesn’t necessarily welcome the level of sophistication his music requires. However, his direction takes a rightful change once the atmospheric interlude “This” rears its head. As rhythms begin to subtly vanish in psychedelic washes, prevailing emotions take precedent over a solid dance beat. At times, the groove buckles in fear like Darth Vader just walked into a Tatooine disco – thumping in cosmic uncertainty.
All of the tracks on Ask the Dust are fleshed out with a patience that’s desperately lacking from many of the drop-obsessed producers today. Lorn is able to caress his glitch stabs in a seemingly, far more organic and less-forced nature than normal and the resulting drift removes any potential distractions from the inner existential-journey. Above all, this is music to get lost in. Things go deepest on the album’s centerpiece “Everything is Violence,” where the Wisco kid starts hitting frequencies so low you’d think he’s sending out a mating call to a blue whale.