Lockah, Yahoo or the Highway

Abby Garnett

By Abby Garnett

on 04.14.14 in Reviews

It’s been two and a half years since Rustie’s Glass Swords, but its influence is hard to overstate. Alongside fellow Glaswegian Hudson Mohawke, Rustie’s pristine, album-oriented EDM continues to serve as a jumping-off point for a new wave of bedroom producers. Tom Banks, who records as Lockah and hails from the slightly less cosmopolitan city of Aberdeen, is one such producer, and on his debut album for Brighton-based label Donky Pitch, Yahoo or the Highway, he restructures what he has called his “rap-influenced pop music for the club” into something more intimate and melodic.

Exploring and expanding upon the intersections of hip-hop and electronic music

Like his contemporaries, Banks uses his music to explore and expand upon the intersections of hip-hop and electronic music. But where Rustie’s sound is characterized by brassy stabs, Lockah’s is bubbly and optimistic, drawing heavily from Miami bass and the dance-crossover melting pot of mid-’90s radio. Banks’s pop vision is at once unassuming and exacting, with straightforward, repetitive harmonic progressions providing a foundation for minutely chopped-up beats and see-sawing synth lines. “If Loving U Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Wrong” nods to INOJ’s classic “Love You Down” before expanding into a lush landscape that hovers somewhere between kitschy homage and highbrow reinterpretation. Banks’ sharp mixing allows him to tackle a gamut of sounds, from the glitchy, discordant syncopation on “Ayyo Tricknology” to the upward-spiraling “Heartless Monster.” And though there’s a certain irreverence at play here, the most jokingly-titled track, “Summer Jorts (Some Cats Still Do)” is also the album’s most ecstatic moment of originality, a blippy, Nintendo-via-YouTube confection that could easily be the song of the summer. It’s music that rewards short attention spans while playfully encouraging a deeper response.