On July 6th Tectonic recordings presents the game-changing second album by 26 year old Mancunian Sam Walton, better known as simply Walton.
‘Black Lotus’ follows his inclusion on Tectonic’s landmark 100th release – Riko Dan’s ‘Hard Food’ EP, plus the ‘Praying Mantis’/ ‘Koto Riddim’ 12” (also on Tectonic) and the ‘Taiko’ EP on Kaizen – the latter two of which hinted at the album’s sound, but didn’t fully prepare us for the brilliance to come.
Abstract electronics, grime, dubstep and new styles that don’t even have a name yet coalesce perfectly on this classic in the making. It finds Walton at peak power, reaching just as far (if not more so) than anything on the Pan, Different Circles, Boxed or Tectonic catalogues for pure futurism and new-terrain-traversing brilliance.
Spacious and modern sounding, with just the right amount of grit, on ‘Black Lotus’ Walton has taken things the next level – setting an impressive new high bar. This is the best music to take inspiration from far eastern culture since Photek’s seminal ‘Ni – Ten – Ichi – Ryu’ and ‘The Water Margin’.
Cinematic may be a term bandied about too often, but on this record it unquestionably applies, with the whole thing playing out like an epic movie, full of highs, lows, action, reflection and changing scenes.
The album kicks off with ‘Black Lotus’, which makes it quickly evident that this isn’t just another generic longplayer; a weightless/sino style intro segues into a mystical kalimba line, which is then is enveloped by huge waves of synthesized, pitched-down brass.
‘Point Blank’ offers locked, harsh mechanical funk, full of aggravated excitement, before sleek, spacious grime and disguised pop garage achieve twisted anthem status, on the hugely satisfying ‘Koto Riddim’.
‘No Mercy’’s Yakuza crime riff is perfect for Riko Dan’s threatening menace, especially at the point his voice gets distorted into a guttral and unsettling, demon-like wretch.
‘Mad Zapper’ is abstract, comprised of simple yet challenging beats, tones and stutters, whilst ‘Angry Drummer’’s taiko/kumi-daiko style percussion has a rousing, heavy thump.
‘Pan’ sounds equally enthralling whether soundtracking a dark movie scene of impending danger, or carying enratptured ravers on a danceflor journey, especially one suited to the synapse-prodding drama of a high production, lazer-heavy festival set.
Choppy drums and bouncy bass tones are laced with the georgeos melody of ‘Ehru’, and ‘Vectors’ is sleek ‘n’ deep breakbeat-garage-meets-IDM.
Although already known for elements of musicality, Walton raises his game even higher with the beau
tiful closing track ‘White Lotus’, which has a wow factor akin to hearing Aphex’s Twin’s ‘Jynweythek Ylow’ for the first time.
“The title came from the idea that I wanted it to be sweet and melodic in areas, but dark and grimey at the same time”, recalls Walton. “I never really listened to much Japanese and Chinese music before working on this, and that element originally came from listening to a lot of Sino grime stuff. It wasn’t until I was deep into the process of making the album that I started listening to loads of traditional stuff on YouTube for melodic ideas, which changed how it turned out. The whole dubstep techno crossover thing was also a big influence.”
“I’m really happy to have Riko Dan & Wen on there”, he adds. “I’ve done a few remixes of Riko tunes which have had a great response, so it’s been wicked to get some original material done together. The track with Wen was first started a while back, so I’m glad it was finally finished and will see a release.”
Walton has been steadily gaining serious clout through releases since 2011 on Hyperdub, Keysound, Tectonic and Kaizen, with supporters including Mumdance, Logos, Slimzee, Laurel Halo, Wen, Hodge, Mary Anne Hobbs, Giles Peterson, Paleman, Teki Latex, Commodo, Loefah and Kode9. Key club, festival and radio shows include FWD at Plastic People, Fabric, Outlook, NTS, Rinse, Radar and BBC 1xtra.
- ‘Black Lotus’
- ‘Point Blank’
- ‘Koto Riddim’
- ‘No Mercy’ feat Riko Dan
- ‘Mad Zapper’
- ‘Angry Drummer’
- ‘Vectors’ feat. Wen
- ‘White Lotus’