Luke Abbott: Translate review – lush and cavernous

Kitty Empire
·1-min read

Sinister and grandiose, hectic and bucolic, Norfolk producer Luke Abbott’s third album accretes big sense impressions from some wildly disparate sources. Somehow in Translate, his first solo artist album in six years and third overall, you find echoes of Boards of Canada and Dario Argento horror film soundtracks, of the beatific glide of Kraftwerk and the cold beauty of systems music: all this and sylph-like tunes too. Abbott has a jazz sideline – Szun Waves – and composes film music; here, you can hear the latter but not the former.

Having built a “speaker-henge” in order to achieve the cosmic wraparound sound he was after in the studio, Abbott says he hopes to be able to tour this lush, cavernous record in full quadrophonic effect after the pandemic. Fingers crossed he will, because tracks such as Earthship pair three-dimensional modular synth progressions with creepy found sounds, while others, like Living Dust, muster skitters and wub-wub to generative and strangely meditative ends. River Flow, meanwhile, conveys the ache of classical strings, and Feed Me Shapes ships in actual guitars for a finishing Velvet Underground touch. Bravo.