Album: Into Clouds
Non-Airable Tracks: NONE
Back in 2011, the alternative dance trio The M Machine formed. They went on to release their debut album, Metropolis, which was split into two EPs. The EPs received wide acclaim and attention, with both reaching the #1 overall spot on Beatport. In 2015, Andy Coenen left the group to pursue his own interests, but he still produces music under the moniker, Dog Logic. Now, The M Machine’s Eric Luttrell, or just Luttrell in this case, has used some of his spare time to create his debut solo album, Into Clouds. With a dreamy title and relaxing, yet intriguing, dance music, I would consider Into Clouds to be this generation’s Dreamland, with Luttrell poised to be a new version of the late Robert Miles.
I’ve listened to most of The M Machine’s songs, both parts of Metropolis and their full-length album Glare, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Luttrell’s solo effort. Once I heard the opening for the first track, “After All,” I knew that this was going to be a unique record. “After All” opens with soft, warm synths, and breathy vocals that immediately pull the listener into a dreamscape whose physical description can be seen, and felt, by looking at the cover art. On top of these warm, yet chilly layers, the singer implores the listener, or possibly Luttrell himself, to let them go. In the next track, “Out Of Me,” Luttrell sings about how strong his love for the singer in the previous song is. The instrumentals for “Out Of Me” is a little more hard-hitting, with a grimy bass, and alarm-sounding synths (like the one’s on The M Machine’s “Black,” but much less ominous). At this point it becomes clear that Luttrell is using one-liners in the first few songs in order to weave together a fragmented love story. Usually, one-liners in RPM songs do not contribute to any overarching themes, so to see them actually mean something here is very refreshing. After the first three songs, Luttrell decides to throw in a few purely instrumental dance tracks, which show his composing prowess. The first of these instrumentals is the title track. Although it clocks in at five and a half minutes, the pacing of “Into Clouds” is expertly balanced with a beautiful, evolving soundscape that mixes both soft and hard instruments. Some of which include plucks, strings, the alarm synth from “Out Of Me,” and a heavy bass. The next track, “Windowscene,” definitely sticks out from the rest, with a broken-up beat, unintelligible vocal effects, and a frantic synth that brings a sense of danger into the dreamscape. It is certainly one of the more interesting tracks, and possibly the most clubby. “Layover” follows in order to let the album take a breather; it is more simple in composition, but the drums and baritone synth may be an acquired taste for some listeners. Afterwards comes the second shortest song on the album, “Quiet Even Dark” which seems to wrap up the love story that the first three tracks established. “Quiet Even Dark” does sound like it was done more in the style of The M Machine, with a choir created from one singer, backed up by plucks and droning synths. The last three songs on the album are fairly simple sounding, but are still nice to listen to. Luttrell’s absolute last thoughts in the album are conveyed on “May 25th,” where he sings that he “should have let it go,” over melancholic plucks and chords. We don’t ever know what “it” is, or what the significance of May 25th is, but sometimes it’s better that certain questions go unanswered. It makes the experience more interesting.
Overall, Into Clouds is a great debut from a great musician. Each track sounds like they had a good deal of thought put into them, with a soundscape that manages to be bright, dark, warm, cold, inviting, and ominous at the same time. It’s also fun to try to understand what happened in the fragmented love story given few clues. The album as a whole is fairly easy to listen to, but there are small certain portions that may sound monotonous, which may be a challenge for those who are not used to listening to instrumentals. There are a few instruments, like the drums and baritone synth in “Layover,” that may not sit well right away, but it’s a minor inconvenience. Aside from these small issues, Into Clouds is a great album, and I would definitely recommend it. I’m also curious to see what else Luttrell puts out in the future, and if he’ll claim his spot as the new Robert Miles.
Sounds Like: The M Machine, Robert Miles
Quiet Even Dark
Reviewer’s Name: Nick Ramos
Date Reviewed: 02/19/2019