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Loner Deluxe – Field Recordings

Loner Deluxe is the alter-ego and musical project of Keith Wallace, whom, since 2006, has run the Rusted Rail record label, which is based in Galway, Ireland. Field Recordings is his first album since 2017’s Songs I Taped Off The Radio. I’ll kind of start the review where I might often end – and say that from the outset, this is a diverse and eclectic set of songs. I wouldn’t particularly describe the album as ‘cohesive’ – and that actually plays very much to its strengths, because each song sounds like it carries us off at a tangent – and sometimes in a completely different direction – to the previous song.

There’s a lo-fi feel to the recordings throughout – and a fuzzy, slightly stoned feel. ‘Meet On The Wedge’, for instance, has all the hallmarks of a tune written while sitting in the garden just after sunset, slightly jaded from the effects of an unknown substance.

‘Cancel The Fear’ unexpectedly manages to fuse Eels with John Carpenter. Elsewhere, there are bleeps, synth noises, and sounds which wouldn’t be out of place on a Dr. Who outtakes album. It probably won’t surprise you that there are themes of paranoia, cognitive dissonance and environmental decline herein.

‘Ex-Directory’ is what T-Rex might sound like if Mark Bolan‘s girlfriend whispered the vocals and Tangerine Dream were invited along to the party. It’s arguably the most ‘pop’ song here.

There’s definitely a feel-good retro theme going on here too. ‘Broken Compass’ could be the sound of an archived Kraftwerk session where ‎Florian Schneider decided to bring along an electric guitar with a fuzz effect pedal which he’s borrowed from Sonic Youth. Fans of seventies early electronica and lo-fi will be in their element.

‘Viral Hit’ rounds things off – and by my reckoning, it’s the standout track. It was apparently written during the pandemic, which just goes to show that some good things do actually come out of a pandemic.

In summary, there are countless ideas across this album – and that’s really the way this album should be approached when listening to it. It’s almost like a document – or a diarised soundtrack – of the randomised thoughts of Wallace, where none of the chapters of the book bear any relation to the next. Just because we’re hearing about a star exploding in a far away universe in the current song doesn’t mean we won’t hear about a vandalised phone box in the next one.

‘Field Recordings’ is released on Fri 5th March.

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