Reflecting on the year that just passed one EP stands out. Distinguished packaging, artwork, and a milk white coloured vinyl complete the item but, necessarily, it’s the music cut in to the grooves which prompts this extra praise. Arm raised in acknowledgement. LAY’s Portrait 01, Layla Rutherford’s debut is exceptional. Truly, a wonderful gift to ears, minds, bodies, dancefloors. Listen.

Upon moving from the late-noughties into our current decade inner city interconnectivity seemed to take over from MySpace highs which had helped facilitate new ways of international music making and exchange. Digital runnings can only ever offer so much and it was through various London club nights a new generation grew. At Plastic People, Nonsense, Deviation (at different spots), Eglo bashes… This is where I recall Layla Rutherford, warm in demeanour and with good people beside her.

When Arale 01 surfaced, a 7” Layla compiled for Kilowatt Music presenting UK beatmaker Ben Jones and the under-championed singer Muhsinah, I figured a follow up would come not so long after. Well, it took five years but now it has: Layla’s own Portrait 01.

The lead track ‘Seeds’ is wow. Really, the way it works over the whole seven minutes. As Dego’s said (referencing Theo Parrish’s style): it allows people to get it. And ‘Seeds’ keeps on, with changes in motion, elements brought in no matter that the end’s close. (Still) It rises. Guitar from Sunita Sagger and beautiful vocals (Layla’s surely?): “People…”

‘Mankind’ enters just a silent beat after the opener. Now with Dr Sam Shepherd (Floating Points) co-producing, the tempo gently ups. It’s later in the night (you know). Pulsing all the way, it’s a treat to hear the extra layers Dr Sam brings in unison with Layla’s sound.

I (like to) imagine ‘Still’ is the EP’s track of choice in Berlin. Again the tempo increases and a driving kick is complimented with the floating frequencies, keys, around it. Like a portrait reflects its subject, sides A and B mirror each other with the (co-)producer credits. In the closing song LAY takes sole control again, writing, performing, producing and mixing the track. Again, on the record, there’s almost no pause between songs, and ‘Origin’ emerges with synth-lines like smoke. Tempo dropped, it steps towards then through melting falsetto vocals. An exquisite combination of frequencies; sounds.

Whatever more comes, or doesn’t, from Arale and/or LAY, for Portrait 01 we’re grateful. Give thanks. Get it.

Words from Ben V.