Al­bum re­view: CCLX by Lu­nice

Mon­treal artist Lu­nice re­leases cin­e­matic de­but

The McGill Daily - - Contents - Mariam Salaymeh Cul­ture Writer

Lu­nice Fer­min Pierre II has pro­gressed from 19-year-old bboy to ver­sa­tile artist. Lu­nice, a child of Filipino and Haitian im­mi­grants, is based in Mon­treal and draws heavy in­flu­ences from African-amer­i­can artists, say­ing, “I grew up around hip hop cul­ture, I keep it as ba­sic as that … but that in­flu­ence is un­der­cut with elec­tronic un­der­tones.” He orig­i­nally pur­sued Djing as a teenager, which kick­started his de­sire to cre­ate his own mu­sic.

Across 11 tracks on CCLX (360), Lu­nice un­rav­els a “stoner opera that blends new rap pro­duc­tion, film scores, and mod­ern club mu­sic.” He com­bines rap, hip hop and elec­tronic to of­fer lis­ten­ers an en­tic­ing lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The al­bum is lay­ered and in­tense; one song is in­stru­men­tal bliss, the next is provoca­tive verse. It’s the­atri­cal. The al­bum’s first half show­cases tra­di­tional old-school rhythm and blues, while “Free­man” fea­tures po­etry and ush­ers in the al­bum’s mid­way point, “CCLX III (In­ter­mis­sion).” “Drop Down” has a heavy down­beat fit for a club, and fea­tures Le1f rap­ping. “CCLX III (Cos­tume)” has spir­i­tual un­der­tones as the fi­nal notes are el­e­vated and syn­the­sized, al­most op­ti­mistic. When The Daily asked Lu­nice about the mean­ing be­hind some of his songs, he re­sponded, “How I re­act to my mu­sic could be com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the next per­son, which is great be­cause [art] is so sub­jec­tive.”

Ac­cord­ing to Lu­nice, there’s a new wave of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion both within the hip-hop/rap genre and be­tween sev­eral gen­res. He claims, “[the genre] can’t only be straight rap.” From this mind­set comes his fierce sup­port for and in­volve­ment in im­promptu jam ses­sions in elec­tronic and rap mu­sic tak­ing place across his home­town of Mon­treal. Ex­plain­ing the legacy of col­lab­o­ra­tion and its pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions, he says, “There were ses­sions where you could bring what­ever in­stru­ment you need to play mu­sic out, to come up with new sound and new mu­sic ev­ery week­end, it was the per­fect set­ting to push our bound­ary and ex­per­i­ment. That was a thing from when Kay­tranada and his crew were bub­bling up, or even when we look at the his­tory of Jazz.”

His gen­eral nar­ra­tive is stylis­tic, four songs hold an epony­mous ti­tle, and fore­shadow the dif­fer­ent “acts,” while other num­bers work in­de­pen­dently. We start off the al­bum with “CCLX (cur­tain)” wherein the lis­tener is told to “save your bet­ter change for the road” and is con­sis­tently re­minded of the artist’s mu­si­cal back­ground, with an elec­tronic down­beat which lasts through­out the whole open­ing fea­ture. The tonal changes are of­ten de­fined by the reprisal of sullen rap from a mo­ment of si­lence dur­ing the song. It con­cludes. Since the re­lease the au­di­ence feed­back has been pos­i­tive and per­haps more im­por­tantly, crit­ics have also em­braced his cre­ativ­ity.

Al­though the al­bum is dark in sound and tone, many lyrics are op­ti­mistic and up­lift­ing. The mu­sic video for CCLX’S lead sin­gle, “Tha Doorz,” mir­rors the al­bum’s for­mat. Con­ceived in Mon­treal five years ago, the song fea­tures a swelling, omi­nous synth; Lu­nice ac­tu­ally only used one main synth melody through­out, cred­it­ing Kanye West as an in­spi­ra­tion for that cre­ative de­ci­sion.

The video is im­mac­u­late and ab­stract. Lu­nice’s cin­e­mato­graphic mode of pro­cess­ing be­comes ap­par­ent as the song com­bines club, trap, and a hyp­notic depth found within the slower beat, all co­a­lesc­ing be­hind the mu­sic video’s ab­stract chore­og­ra­phy. When Lu­nice was asked about this, he re­hashed his pas­sion for film and the cre­ative po­ten­tial in com­bin­ing the au­dio and vis­ual, ex­plain­ing, “What’s in­ter­est­ing is that I’ve come to re­al­ize that I re­ally do en­joy shoot­ing, al­most as much as I like mu­sic, which is funny be­cause for some peo­ple it just comes to mak­ing the mu­sic.” He stud­ied edit­ing and film in CEGEP and at Con­cor­dia, say­ing he’s al­ways loved the “hard work that comes with tak­ing cre­ative risks,” both in per­form­ing and in au­dio­vi­sual me­dia.

In the last few sec­onds of the record’s fi­nal track, “CCLX IV (Black Out),” we man­age to hear a snip­pet of Lu­nice’s un­re­strained laugh. When asked about end­ing the al­bum on this note, he stated: “The whole record’s pretty dark so I wanted to just lighten it up and even to give an im­pres­sion of ‘to be con­tin­ued’ into some­thing a lit­tle more light-hearted to fol­low.” He’s very ex­cited about the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, cit­ing that he al­ready has notes and blue­prints for the next al­bum. He rec­og­nized that for his de­but, though, the dark mu­si­cal un­der­tones, con­cep­tual tex­tures, and hints of op­ti­mism make the al­bum a lay­ered, com­plex piece. Lu­nice’s fi­nal laugh of­fers a layer of hope amongst the ab­strac­tions and swells of CCLX’S tonal dark­ness.

Across 11 tracks, Lu­nice un­rav­els a ‘stoner opera that bleeds new rap pro­duc­tion, film scores, and mod­ern club mu­sic.’ “[Jam ses­sions were] the per­fect set­ting to push our bound­ary and ex­per­i­ment... from when Kay­tranada and his crew were bub­bling up, or even when we look at the his­tory of Jazz.” —Lu­nice

Im­age Cour­tesy of Mo­tor­mouth Me­dia

Im­age Cour­tesy of Mo­tor­mouth Me­dia

Lu­nice in “Tha Doorz.”

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