layo and bushwacka lead

Following the October release of Rising & Falling, UK duo Layo & Bushwacka announced that they would be ending their 15-year partnership. Given that I attribute much of my current love of tech house to their 2002 album, Night Works, I was naturally dismayed to hear that the duo had decided to go their separate ways. Ever the eternal optimist, however, the one positive I can glean from this news is that it spurred me to buckle down and hammer out this review. Better late than never, right?

Seeing as how Rising & Falling comes almost six years after its predecessor, Feels Closer, it goes without saying that there would be a noticeable shift in Layo & Bushwacka’s sound. This is pretty immediately noticeable from the track following the intro, “Delta Ahead,” which features a moody, ominous sound unlike anything I’ve heard from the duo. “Can’t Hurt You” is simplicity done right, featuring a brilliantly worked snare as a beat that echos throughout the track with mellow vocals and tantalizingly minimal instrumentation. Another favorite of mine is the masterfully layered “Raw Defined,” which utilizes a pulsating bassline with special guest appearances from a couple bizarre samples to form an eargasmicly cohesive track.

Layo and Bushwacka

As can be the case with minimal tunes, there are definitely some points in the record that dragged a bit for me, particularly “Thylacine” and “Born In The Backwoods.” Despite finding this album to be enjoyable overall, I didn’t find many of the tracks to be particularly memorable until several listens later. That being said, I am particularly fond of the tracks I have come to appreciate, and I doubt I’ll be getting sick of them at any point in the near future, if ever.

Overall, I would say that Rising & Falling is more sophisticated and polished than some of Layo & Bushwacka’s earlier releases. It may not be as immediately gratifying as my favorite album of theirs, Night Works, but it’s an introspective work that has had me marinated in musical thoughts for the last couple months, and those don’t come around too often. The album is meticulously crafted and neatly concludes a 15-year musical journey with class.

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