Al Lover releases new album ‘Cosmic Joke’
Los Angeles-based experimental producer Al Lover is today releasing his new album ‘Cosmic Joke’! A staple of the global psychedelic scene, Lover has spent nearly a decade fine-tuning a broken, abstracted form of electronica that pools together a tapestry of trip-hop, synthesised krautrock, dub and dark ambient. Out today, you can stream the album below and pre-order the Fuzz Club Exclusive vinyl here.
Utilising an arsenal of samples, drum machine, analogue synths and live instrumentation, Lover’s is a kaleidoscopic sound that’s J-Dilla, DJ Shadow and Lee Scratch Perry by way of Brian Eno, Kraftwerk and Kluster. Central to his music is a desire to explore the fringes of psychedelic music and the common threads that run through its far-reaching styles, drawing elements from the past and connecting them to the future. Now, Lover returns with his latest studio album, ‘Cosmic Joke’ – a series of synthesised philosophical meditations on modern life, in all its tragicomic absurdity.
Talking about the record – which arrives following his 2019 ‘Existential Everything’ LP – Lover says: "'Cosmic Joke' came from observing the rising, compounded absurdity in recent years and seeing structures of normalcy dissolving. It’s my attempt to view these things as part of a higher-order process, through a metaphysical lens rather than an ideological one. It’s been an exercise in holding the paradoxical relationship of comedy and tragedy, joy and pain, growth and decay, scale and decline as part of an interlocked system that, at a deep level, is essential to how we interface with the world.”
He adds: “How this interlocked ‘Yin and Yang’ can be observed from individual and societal, and now technological and global, levels is perhaps a universal principal that we would all benefit from considering our relationship to in these strange times. While making this record, I went from living in LA to living on a ranch in rural California and was able to meditate on these ideas away from the city, observing the processes of nature and how they relate to these ideas too. I believe this strengthened their value to me.”
The choppy, pulsating opener ‘Stereoscopic View’ is suitably cinematic given it serves as “a meditation on the optic system as a metaphor for overall experience” and ‘Parallel Pathways’ carves out one of Lover’s classic kosmische drones whilst exploring how “our shared subjective experiences of events can be similar and different simultaneously”. The latter’s themes are also particularly explored on the album’s more off-kilter ambient moments, ‘Ultimate Reality (Question)’ and ‘Experiential Feedback Loop’ – both of which are atmospheric meditations on “the relationship between the subjective observer and objective reality, and how the two play into each other creating the phenomenon of experience.”
Elsewhere, lead single ‘Integrated Paradox’ is all percussive hedonism and sticky analogue synth sequences and, alongside the heavy Klanging beat of ‘Corresponding Contradiction’, it is one of two explorations of the dichotomy between “paradox versus contradiction”. A liberating piece of dubbed-out electro psych, ‘A Very Mechanised Dance’ reflects on one such paradox - that is, “the freedom that is to be found within constraint and discipline.” That relationship is one that perhaps perfectly sums up the Al Lover ethos: using minimal 4/4 grooves as a launchpad into more expansive, maximalist and spiritually-freeing sonic worlds.
In keeping with that, ‘Cosmic Joke’ isn’t just an exercise in Lover himself coming to terms with the human condition as he sees it in our era of overlapping crises, but is specifically designed to accompany and foster the listener's own meditations on the world around them. Lover may have been the one to craft the soundscapes but that’s only half of the story. As much the listener’s as it is Lover’s, this is a communal record that is constructed to help elevate the consciousness of whoever lets it in.
As he instructively writes in the album’s liner notes: ‘Commune with this record as an Intentional Listening Experience. While listening, meditate on the interwoven, paradoxical nature of life – through the metaphor of the universal, tragic comedy, ‘The Cosmic Joke’ – to deepen your relationship with the absurdly limited amount of time you have on this planet.’