To be perfectly honest, I thought I would notice symptoms of hearing loss while I was still working at my college radio station. In actuality, last fall marked the first time when my tinnitus became too loud to ignore. When I learned that Cleveland-born, Brooklyn-based Galcher Lustwerk had been living with tinnitus for years, it started to become clear why his 2019 album Information made such an impact on me.
The record is filled with downtempo house beats and indifferent vocals. “I want to sound as tired as I feel,” the artist told DJ Mag. His exhaustion is clear as a performance; in the tracks where he does rap, he only does so with a great deal of volume control. That is not to discount his sense of rhythm; “Fathomless Irie,” “Bit,” and “I See a Dime” all boast silky bars.
His delivery throughout his discography has always been on the verge of apathetic, and on his 2019 album, it became one of its most important elements. Vocals snuggle into the muted percussion and basslines in a way that louder, more boisterous beats would not have allowed. “Plainview, plain plain view/You so plain man, can’t you see you?” he growls nearly midway through the record, cementing his tone as critical yet simultaneously aloof. “Overpay, Overstay” uses its infectious rhythm to reinforce the album’s purpose.
Compared to his previous work, Galcher Lustwerk has been compressed. His hearing loss had an indirect influence on his production style; he’s noticed the change, and explained it to DJ Mag: “Being sensitive to loud sounds, I end up picking sounds from a certain frequency range that give me that moody feel.” With that, there are plenty of hooks across Information that simply don’t need to spill into the red to be enjoyed. I wouldn’t presume that you would need to have experienced persistent tinnitus to enjoy those sounds, but also, I wouldn’t really know.
Best Albums of 2019
9. Galcher Lustwerk – Information