Spanning from 126 to 136 beats per minute, the new album from Mancunian producer Walton is a fluid and experimental body of work, drawing influences from a myriad of genres including sinogrime, techno, and dubstep. Weighing in at 44 minutes, Black Lotus is Walton's second LP, following on from his 2013 debut Beyond. This time, he's released with Tectonic Recordings instead of Hyperdub – a logical progression, given that the label encompasses everything in the grey area between techno and grime. Speaking to us in May, label boss Pinch described the album as "absolutely off the chain", and he wasn't wrong.
The album's mood shifts subtly with each track, from the blissful and intricate opener and title track, to the burgeoning basslines and rapid-fire percussion of "Point Blank", to the more traditional grime song "No Mercy", which sees Riko Dan spray some characteristically complex rhyme schemes over orchestral strings ("You took the turning at the wrong time / I take the vertebrae from your spine / Leave a man squirming on the floor, crying"). The album's only other feature comes courtesy of Margate-based producer WEN, who lends a helping hand on "Vectors", an ethereal highlight from the album which brings together steel drums and weightless, delay-soaked synth lines.
A common thread throughout the album is a focus on orientalist instruments and melodies, most obvious on tracks like "Koto Riddim VIP" and lead single "Erhu". Black Lotus is, resultantly, a far cry from the house- and garage-tinged sound of Walton's first album. Indeed, in a recent interview with Magnetic Mag, he cited Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Danny Weed and Jammer as four key influences on the album. It may not strictly be grime, but it's the perfect introduction to a versatile producer who has honed his craft to the point where he's able to rewrite the rules of the genre. Listen below in full: