LA Priest - Inji - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

LA Priest - Inji

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2015-06-29

Sam Dust put his LA Priest moniker on hiatus back in 2007 due to the success of his new rave/prog-indie (prindie?) act Late of the Pier. Since that band split in 2010, he’s been touring as guitarist for electro-folk weirdie Connan Mockasin, building synths in the Welsh countryside, and studying electromagnetism in Greenland.

Now he’s back with his first solo album, a mix of wonky Prince funk, synth-pop, Radiophonic Workshop electronics, and chillwave ambience. ‘Occasion’, which opens the album, does a good job of replicating the sexytime vibes of the Purple One, but also captures an element which imitators often miss about Prince’s 80s prime: his willingness to use strange sounds and unconventional production techniques. Consequently, ‘Occasion’ squirms forward, itchy with lust, on a bed of sickly, curdled synths and heavily processed guitar histrionics.

‘Gene Washes With New Arm’ melds what sounds like incidental music from an early-70s Doctor Who episode to some sensual fretless bass a la Mick Karn. It’s only a brief instrumental but it’s one of the best tracks here and one of the most adventurous sounds of 2015 so far. ‘Party Zute / Learning to Love’ goes even further in its eclecticism, mixing jazz, chiptune, 80s funk, electro, and what sounds like a computer trying to yodel into something that’s as skewed as it is irresistible.

‘Party Zute / Learning to Love’ segues nicely into ‘Lorry Park’ which takes looped and chopped snippets of Dust’s angelic falsetto, slaves them to frantic free jazz drums, drops in a motherfucking huge electronic churning noise, and swiftly builds into something magical but tantalisingly fleeting. ‘Night Train’, which follows, is minimalist techno overlaid with synth washes and a lovely, lonesome vocal from Dust, packing an emotional punch lacking from most of the rest of Inji. Elsewhere, ‘Oino’ is the closest the album gets to a conventional pop song, and it’s a cracker: perfect jerky, funky electro-pop which recalls Metronomy and Blood Orange, with more wailing guitar, and a fat synth-bassline to drive everything along.  

Following these disco delights, ‘Fabby’ changes tack, with fiddly post-rock guitar building to a melodramatic grandeur, like the soundtrack to an invisible film. Penultimate number ‘A Good Sign’ keeps the pace slow. It’s the most obvious chillwave throwback, and the only track which drags. It does contain some gorgeous Tangerine Dream synth flourishes and spine-tingling Pink Floyd-style guitar, but towards the end introduces a loud, staccato bleeping noise which obscures Dust’s vocal, almost as if he decided to sabotage the song as he was making it.

The album closes with ‘Mountain’, on which the Beatles-esque melody Dust's serene vocal, equal parts Kate Bush and Jeff Buckley, belie the lyrics’ refutation of love. Unfortunately, it’s a slight way to end an album which stays brave and bold up until its final quarter.

Inji feels like a collection of experiments, but its best moments, of which there are many, transcend that, pulling seemingly random elements from pop’s past and slamming them into the cutting-edge of the present. In its stylish iconoclasm, it can only be measured against Young Fathers’ White Men Are Back Men Too from this year’s releases. What it lacks in Young Fathers’ ferocity, it makes up in fun and likeability.

Inji slightly loses its way toward the end, but there’s everything to suggest Dust’s next release will build on its strengths. 

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