Producer Daniel Stephens–the half of hip-hop collaboration Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip that’s responsible for the beats–has made his long-awaited solo debut with Space Between the Words. Dan Le Sac’s first album is as diverse as its impressive collection of contributors, but it’s varied to the point of haphazardness.
On Space Between the Words, Dan Le Sac storms through genres with a destructive fury. “Tuning” and “Good Time Gang War” mash together hip-hop and the dirtiest of electro rattles into something commissioned for dystopic dance floors. Less sinister yet just as foot-moving is “Break of Dawn”, a foray into M83-esque synth-pop. Le Sac’s vision as a producer is at its most formidable on “Memorial”, where the normally sweet, heartwrenching vocals of Emmy the Great are twisted into an unearthly apparition that agitates the goth-gone-trip-hop beats and vicious riffs into the hard-hitting stuff of musical nightmare.
Another convincing argument in favor of Dan Le Sac’s penchant for dizzying eclecticism is made during Space Between the Words‘ first act. With its handclap rhythms and hypnotic synth ebbs and flows, opener ” Long Night of Life” soars with a grand opulence that exhibits the power of big production, but remains completely human thanks to the evocative guest vocals of electronic folkster Merz. Lead single “Play Along” clatters as if jumping back and forth in time between the funky, retro cool hooks of singer Sarah Williams White and futuristic beats and wobbly bass lines.
As inventive and thrilling as Space Between the Words can be, it’s not a perfect album. Its opening numbers are so strong that the second half largely pales in comparison. While the de-emphasis on flow makes taking in the whole record at once an exhausting, overwhelming task, it has plenty of rewards along the way. It’s easy to view Dan Le Sac’s solo debut as an unfocused collection of good ideas, but the way he tears through various styles and sounds is creation via destruction.
Essential Tracks: “Memorial”, “Good Time Gang War”