LA Priest GENE Domino
Whether fronting Late of the Pier, working alone as LA Priest or collaborating with Connan Mockasin under the pseudonym Soft Hair, Sam Eastgate has now devoted more than a decade to conjuring electro-pop curios.
Five years on from the warped, sci-fi-inspired debut album Inji, this second solo outing takes its cues from – and shares its name with – the analogue contraption Eastgate built to escape the “structure and rigour of standard drum machines”. As admirable an achievement as hand-soldering dozens of electrical circuits is, it’s debatable whether it was the most fruitful use of the singer and producer’s time, particularly when you consider that the strongest moments on the album (Beginning; the David Byrne-esque What Moves) largely reprise the off-kilter funk grooves of Inji.
It’s around the album’s halfway mark that more obvious rhythmic structures start to fall away, with distinctly mixed results. Monochrome meanders with no real purpose, shoehorning several disparate song ideas into one amorphous mess, while the rudimentary glitchiness of Black Smoke brings to mind an inferior approximation of Kid A-era Radiohead. On the other hand, What Do You See is compelling, like a digital take on desert blues, as sung in the wobbling falsetto of Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth. It’s glimmers of brilliance like this that attest to the continued power of Eastgate’s offbeat approach. Frustratingly, it comes at the expense of consistency.