Thursday, September 25 2014
Drew Cyrus Lustman is a musician in love with complexity and beautiful simplicity alike. On the one hand, the 26-year-old one-time sushi chef grew up playing piano and upright bass in jazz and classical groups, and cites Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Squarepusher and Weather Report as life-changing influences; on the other, he loves clubs, loves to dance, and considers hip hop, house, jungle and UK garage to be as important as any of those virtuoso musicians.
Vitally, there is no sense of any divide between these influences – Drew does not see technical music as separate from music that is there to stimulate good feelings and soundtrack good times. His first releases in 2007 may have been unashamedly Squarepusher-influenced IDM, but they were tracks for the rave and not mere exercises in programming complexity, and listening to their tear-out jungle breaks now, they are unmistakeably the work of a man who dances in the studio. Which he does. And even more impressively, in his more recent releases, these precursors from across the globe and throughout musical history are tied together on the later tunes that brought him to global attention into a sound that could only come under the city lights of his adoptive home of New York in the 21st century.
The breakthrough with these latter tracks came when he dropped the tempo and allowed his beats to breathe, which found him a natural home on the British label Planet Mu, itself revitalised by its immersion in the possibilities of the dubstep and post-dubstep underground. Centring on the rhythms of UK garage provided the key which unlocked Drew’s natural sense of the interconnectedness of electronic funk styles, the limber beat patterns allowing him to forward fromUKG into dubstep space, back into NYC’s orginal garage and further back still towards disco. The rolling rhythms of jungle were still there too, albeit sublimated, and underlying it all was the fresh-to-death gleam and defiant boom of hip hop.
His timing was impeccable: the ‘Love Is A Liability’ album and ‘Bravery’ EP came just as the post-dubstep underground was becoming far more fluid, and his easy stylistic shifts provided the perfect bridge between the new garage of artists like Brackles and Geiom, the cosmic hip hop of LA and Glasgow, and those people who were falling in love with house music all over again via Funky, Omar S and Karizma. But where some English producers might say “it’s all house”, he says “it’s all hip hop! Ya dig?”
Back in New Haven, Conneticut where he was born, a younger Drew would let his mind roam: smoking a lot of pot and “watching the paint drip off the paintings” in the Yale Art Museum, or sitting at home reading Herman Hesse’s Journey to the East and Siddhartha over and over. Now, thanks purely to those two Planet Mu releases, he is travelling in person all over the planet. Drew still has the yen to make wild jungle, and one day maybe he’ll end up back in smoky jazz clubs. But right now, he’s still as in love with current club music as the scene is with him, slipping easily between and ahead of new genre collisions even as they happen. It takes improvisatory skills to deal with a musical world that shifts and reconfigures as wildly as that of 2010 – but if anyone has those skills it’s FaltyDL.