I am, it has to be said, late to the LA Priest party. I wasn’t aware of his debut, Inji, released four years ago. I wasn’t aware of Late of the Pier, the band that preceded this one. Gene – named after a modular drum machine frontman Sam Dust built himself – is my entry point and I fucking love it.
On first listen (to first song, ‘Beginning’) I thought Prince. Low fi Prince.
There’s a sort of groove which feels like it’s emerged from four big machines facing each other and a vocal that shifts from falsetto to baritone and a great many points inbetween.
Beguiling is not the word.
Second track ‘Rubber Sky’ is equally pretty – the funk remains but couched within a vocal that conjures up Michael Kiwanuka and a guitar sound not a million miles away from the sublime Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Alright, Sam Dust, I thought to myself, you are very definitely making music that is up my strasse.
There are times when he finds himself an enchanting a vocal hook (as he does on ‘What Moves’) and times when he peels a curly earworm (as he does on ‘Peace Lily’) … and times when he straps on his back pack and heads out into the fuzzy reaches of psyche for a meeting with the devil as he does on ‘Open My Eyes’.
Occasionally he makes you work for it (it takes a whole minute of ‘Monochrome’ before a dirty synth snark is unleashed – it’s worth the wait), and sometimes you’ll be thinking what the actual F (check out ‘What Do You See’ which has a vocal that sounds like the noise issued by a balloon when you pinch the airhole as the air emerges), but for every bit of weirdsome wigginess, there is loveliness to be unearthed.
Words by Pete Wild.