Have you ever woken up from a bad dream that you kind of want to return to?
Something dark and claustrophobic, urgent and comforting, the cathartic satisfaction that comes from contending with a never-ending horde of zombies on a Resident Evil machine in the lobby of your local Mega Bowl. ‘CCCLX,’ the debut album from Montreal born producer Lunice, evokes something similar — rare and frantic, engulfing and exhausting.
This latest effort marks the Canadian’s first full-length on Lucky Me, and the end of a lengthy period of relative quiet from an artist, who in the past has been the first name on the lips of any artist — Danny Brown, Azealia Banks, Rockie Fresh, to name a few — wanting to bring the sounds of oppressive percussion and discordant trap to their music.
Never succumbing to the demands of the buzz that surrounded him a couple of years back, Lunice seems like someone who feels more at ease with numbers than he does with hype. ‘CCCLX’ — 360 in Roman numerals, follows the ‘One Hunned’ EP which was released in 2011 and preceded two years spent as 50% of TNGHT, along with Scottish impresario Hudson Mohawke.
At its core, the album is intended to account for every reaction, every raw emotion, and every stimulated nerve-ending that can be touched when experiencing new music for the first time. 360 degrees of action and activity, basically. The titular opening enlivens the imagination, paying tribute to the classic dystopian soundscapes seen and heard in the likes of Blade Runner and The Matrix. “Three. Sixty. Play this shit in rotation” announces CJ Flemings, a little-known Canadian rapper and one of a number of independent artists called in by Lunice to join the cast of what he claims to be a “theatrical showcase”.
These opening throws are where Lunice introduces us to a world of his own creation, and it’s not hard to imagine him plugged into a screen of sprawling binary, laying down the foundations of ones and zeros. As we progress further through, ‘CCCLX’ evolves to sound more like an video game than a theatrical production, actively seeking out the full attention of the listener with a grandiose contradiction of orchestral manoeuvres and trap snares, interrupted with jarring interludes of ghettotech, crunk, and Le1f-assisted booty music.
It’s certainly immersive and full of suspense, but like a CD-ROM of DOOM to any 16-year old with an XboxOne, the novelty inevitably wears off. There are stunning moments that evoke a real sense of drama; the Denzel Curry-assisted single ‘Distrust’ being by far the strongest ‘track’ in the conventional sense, and ‘Mazerati’ proving itself to contain the most believable piece of instrumental theatre, but ultimately, we never really reach that boss level.
‘CCCLX’ is fantastic as a momentary escape from the lights and sounds of the mad world we’re living in, but once you’ve holstered the pastel pink desert eagle and left the booth, you’re left with only a handful of killer moments that might entice you to return. It’s not going to change the world, but it’s fun while it lasts.