Rewind fifteen years and a record entitled Lifestyles of The Laptop Cafe was released on legendary electronic music label Warp. After releasing some of the most important electronic albums of all time from artists such as Aphex Twin, it’s no surprise that Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe would go onto become another seminal record.
The album was the creation of James Stinson, one half of the ground-breaking Detroit techno/electro group Drexciya, responsible for a myriad of timeless classics such as Wavejumper. The eight-track record is a true journey through proper electro and is much, much deeper than it may appear after the first listen. In a recent interview, Jackmaster described it saying “It didn’t sound like anything else I’d heard in dance music before – it’s so rich and warm.” Indeed, demand for a vinyl copy of the album was so high that finally Warp relented and repressed it after a long wait for fans.
The record opens with the grunts and groans of Eye Contact. A deep, mysterious synth line swoons throughout most of the track, while a monologue runs is heard describing the scene in a computer cafe. Low chord stabs set the tone for the rest of the album, and the opener has an almost sleazy feel to it. It’s Your Love exemplifies some of the universal attraction of the album. Mininal, simplistic synth stabs and lines dominate over a repeated vocal phrase that demonstrate what is crucial to the record, the idea that less is more. Stinson manages to create a very mysterious and at times melancholic vibe throughout the record while using so little, one of the hardest things to achieve in music.
While the record is full of incredible music, the highlight has to be the albums centre-piece entitled Let Me Be Me. The words “let me be who I wanna be” reverberate around the listeners head while alluring synths bounce around throughout the track. It’s a deep, emotional track that perhaps better capture’s the albums feel the best. Truly a game-changing track, it’s one of those unforgettable tunes that will be played for many, many years to come. Lifestyles of the casual is another crucial track on the record. Ambient, spaced out synths and pads evolve and move taking the listener on a really deep journey which shows off the absolute brilliance of Stinson.
At face-value, the record will seem uninteresting to many, but for those that get it, they know just how much of a special record this really is. One of the best electro albums ever made by a mysterious truck driver from Detroit. If ever there was an album that deserved to be remembered as one of electronic musics finest, Lifestyles of The Laptop Cafe is certainly it.