Riley Lake, Spaces EP

Blake Gillespie

The name Riley Lake has been shouted out on record by milo, who gave the producer his first break, and Busdriver on last year’s Perfect Hair record which featured production from Lake. A reputable launchpad for a young producer, but Riley Lake isn’t out to be the man behind the man. Yesterday he released the Spaces EP, proving he’s not even out to be pigeonholed as a rap producer with the chops to turn America’s “A Horse With No Name” and Future’s “Honest” into art rap anthems, respectively. “This record has little or nothing to do with the lineage from which the sound of previous work arose,” he wrote in an email. He assured me that his peers were as influential as his own quest for a sound that spoke to him.

“At most, you will hear a style of sound design and mixing influenced by my experiences at Low End Theory, and perhaps an abstract inclination towards a nonlinear style of composition. I naturally gravitated to the sound of the EP, it wasn’t really something I had to think about.”

The Spaces EP is alive, in that Riley Lake’s attention deficit pushes a disorderly aesthetic largely formed by admiration for UK Dance or ‘nuum culture and the house/techno heritage of his Midwest origin. Riley Lake said his fascination began four years ago, hinting of the transition last year with his “Friday Night Start Kit” mix for our Friday Night series. The Spaces EP is energetic and amorphous, but never fidgety. “Heart Cleanse” seeks a tender center of r&b fused with hyper club which softens the polars, while “Alloys” is mechanized and industrial, as the title suggests. With no track restricted to a static state, “Alloys” fights off its technical jitters of jungle for a big beat cool down. Closer “Spliff Trak” is the culmination, a rising eclecticism of club sounds colliding into their domain for a grand finale. The result is a mature effort out the gate for an artist who is not to be misconstrued as a dabbler in the electronic arts.

Stream the Spaces EP below and read on for more commentary from Riley Lake.

As you began working in this style, how did the Spaces EP begin to take shape? Did you feel there was a unifying concept or element within these four tracks?

A lot of this record arose from sorta aimless studio experimentation, just workshopping a sketch, a loop, a set of chords, walking around my studio and twisting knobs til shit sounded right and building that night after night until the ideas felt alive, like had a certain vitality. As the record started to take shape, I then started to focus on creating a sense of movement and balance over time that arced across the entire piece, hoping to tie everything together into a larger, sonata-like compositional structure.

Should we expect more music from you in this direction or are you moving quickly and exploring something new entirely for the next project?

You are gonna hear a couple things from me. On one hand, you will hear club music that is much more functional than this, stuff that is sculpted, arranged, mixed purely to be deployed on soundsystems. I’ve got a couple tunes in the works with Max Holiday (who just released a sublime single as Bleach Athletixx) that fit the bill. On the other hand, in some of my future output you will hear me embracing the aesthetic that Rory and al [milo and Safari Al] have developed, stuff that hearkens more directly to the jazz tradition. Finally, I want to do more vocal driven stuff that relies on songwriting and vocal performance as much as studio athletics. Try to tap into that magical well that is pop appeal.

Riley Lake’s Spaces EP is available now via Bandcamp.

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