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Sonic Router

Sonic Router 020: Lando Kal Takes Things Further
Oli Marlow , June 2nd, 2011 09:08

For this month's Sonic Router, Oli Marlow talks to the nomadic Lando Kal about his musical evolution

"Over the past couple years I've really been going back and embracing music I listened to in high school, which was a mixture of loved up R&B and dark jungle, and I think a lot of qualities in those styles of music, mixed with a newfound influence from early house and techno, have been definitely rubbing off on my approach to making music lately."

Lando Kal's sentiment seems somewhat apt given his predilection for relocating himself. Since I've been aware of his music the producer, who might be better known to some as half of the Lazer Sword pairing, has lived in differing environments; from the steep bohemian climes of San Francisco to the metropolitan clutter of New York and the relative artistic freedom of a concrete Berlin. Having consistently exposed himself to an array of new sounds, along with micro-pockets of culture, it's evident in his new music that there are things he's hearing that he's now incorporating into his music.

His first solo 12" on a supposedly 'dubstep' label, Hotflush, shows a side to his productions that people familiar with his, for lack of a better term, crunked-up club music as Lazer Sword might not have been expecting. Whereas Lazer Sword made no bones about being this heavy hitting kind of fun, sweat-enamoured beat music, a track like Lando's 'Further' – taken from his Hotflush release – harbours a quickened four to the floor beat that uses chopped subtle vocals as the focus point. "It can get a little out there and 'drugged up' at times but I do try to keep somewhat of a soulful edge in a lot of my production. There are subtle similar bits and pieces [between the Lazer Sword project and my solo work], but for the most part I'd say my solo efforts do differ and have more classic warehouse elements to them lately," Lando tells me in conversation, humouring my obsession with the differences between his two musical outlets. "I'm from California and while I was still there I definitely embraced a lot of hyphy music and other West Coast known styles. My solo stuff then was more choppy remixes of straight up radio rap and I'd say that's definitely a result of the Cali flavour at the time."

Lazer Sword – Gucci Sweatshirt [Innovative Leisure]

That Californian influence was more than evident on NMBRS001, the second release on Scottish bass music conglomerate Numbers and the first release that united the two brains behind Lazer Sword (Lando and his production partner Low Limit) under their solo guises. Aptly titled 'The Golden Handshake', it displayed new and different directions for Lando. And while tracks from it like '3D Action Jackson' or 'Fuzzy Ankles' couldn't really be further apart in terms of speed and sound palette from his Hotflush release, with hindsight it was evident even then, in early 2010, that he was indulging a different sphere - perhaps looking more towards techno for the different opportunities it presented.

Lando Kal – 3D Action Jackson [Numbers]

"I've been trying to de-swag my shit lately, swag's overrated," he smiles. "No, no… I'm joking, but to be honest I've only really been making this kind of music for a year and a half now. A lot of it has been stuff I was producing on the side for my own pleasure or tunes that were half done and put on the backburner originally, but recently they have been completed and are now finally seeing the light of day."

"I've always had a disguised love for classic jacking house, techno, deep house, and garage," Lando reveals, "but I never did my homework or knew which artists made which tunes. The 'good' classic stuff was just slightly before my time, so I came in late in the game, but the majority of what I listen to and collect of late has been 90s techno and house. Artists like Robert Hood, Suburban Knight, Tuff Jam, Armando, the Metroplex stuff, Shake… they have all been in heavy rotation and I can't front and say they haven't been a huge influence lately."

Like a lot of people he's now experiencing old house and techno as a new sound. Hessle Audio's Ben UFO has expressed his own views on looking back to move forward before and it's a sentiment that Lando exemplifies twisting and interpreting a growing love for these old records in his own way. Take 'Time Out' from his Hotflush release; it runs quick, has little melody outside of its Blockbuster-like chord stabs that lift their timbre inflection at the end before they bubble into life at the second phrase and, without the presence of a four four kick drum rooting it to a particular style, still fits some of techno's more commonplace conventions, being openly raw and completely and totally driven by the hi-hats and flutters of percussion.

Lando Kal – Further [Hotflush]

"I think the main influence lately has been the record shopping," he enthuses. "Since leaving San Francisco a few years ago, I had to completely get rid of my vinyl collection, and now that I've fully settled down here in Berlin, I now have the chance to start rebuilding my collection. It's actually kind of dangerous how much amazing and rare house and techno you'll find at places like Space Hall or Hardwax. I've definitely been taking notes and making all kinds of new discoveries here in Berlin that have also been pushing me to experiment a bit more."

With releases scheduled on the Rush Hour and Leisure System labels, as well as more music touted for release on Hotflush and a follow up album as Lazer Sword in the works, it seems like Lando is pushing himself out further, extending his reach from a select group of contemporaries onto sprawling dancefloors that are encouraging his convention-flaunting.

"Berlin has totally opened my eyes and ears," Lando offers when probed on his home city's musical influence further. "It's definitely one of the most musically vibrant cities; especially in terms of electronic music. Seeing and hearing things first hand here on a decent system can definitely be a game changer. I'm not the biggest minimal fan but I'd say it's necessary to experience a minimal gig in Berlin every so often. Dudes are serious here, it's like the fist pumping actually has meaning..."

DOWNLOAD: Lando Kal – Sonic Router Mix #87


Jeff Mills - 'Alpha Centauri'
Cajmere - 'Brighter Days (Underground Goodies Mix)'
RüBA KPØ - 'Kiss My Back (Simbad Motown Remix)'
Darling Farah - 'Twin'
Cooly G - 'Last Night'
Lone - 'Golden Girls Remix'
Becoming Real - 'Closer (Jam City Remix)'
Bad Autopsy - 'Call Back'
Lando Kal - 'Pegleg (demo)'
Doctor Jeep - 'Yr Mnd'
Lando Kal - 'I Can Give You Better (demo)'
eLan - 'Bleep Bloop Brrrrmmp (Lazer Sword Remix)'
Addison Groove - 'It's Got Me'
Corona - 'Rhythm Of The Night (Lando Kal Remix)'
DJ Deeon - 'Time To Work'

Lando Kal's Further b/w Time Out is out now on Hotflush.

Words: Oli Marlow for Sonic Router