Robert Yang’s newest label, Piece of Work, is onto its second release from 羅伯特 (pinyin Luó bó tè) with an LP that is incredibly lush and well-timed for this season of pre-summer blooms. Lexicon is a dazzling fantasia that’s easy to get lost in. Visually rendered, this sonic landscape might look fluorescent pink clouds riding the wind of a turquoise sky. Lexicon is an ambitious LP that delivers on multiple fronts, from it’s complex synth mastery to its storytelling.
As always, Robert Yang is a virtuoso of synth work — if there’s one thing that is characteristic of his sound, you might argue it’s that. This holds true for his latest endeavor 羅伯特 as well. Yet he takes this stylistic signature to a new level here; it’s more refined, more intentional, more layered. Though Lexicon could be characterized as disco-tinged, synthpop-leaning techno, you might say there’s even an IDM or braindance influence here: it’s music for body and brain. The synth melodies 羅伯特 creates are finely tuned, often consisting of mathy, fast arpeggiation. The faster the melodies, the more hypnotized the ear becomes. And still, these tracks are as catchy as they are cerebral (not an easy balance to achieve). Lexicon masters this: the rhythmic structures and maximalist vibe entices and intrigues both the feeling centers of the body and the mind’s curiosity.
羅伯特 takes us into dreamy spaces right away. The title track is a kind of fantastic voyage filled with trippy synth and a strange, dark-crystalline melody. This is followed by “Flutter,” whose synth structure is as fast and light as a hummingbird wing. Some tracks near the ten minute mark, like “Encoding,” which becomes its own world with its own story arc. This track and others turn unexpectedly; the ear is led down what seems to be a clear road before turning a slightly ominous corner. We aren’t lost by any measure though — the moodiness introduced through the addition of a new melody or a new key brings complexity and dynamism to the arrangement. These tracks are like well-rounded characters: they’re at once mesmerizing, deeply psychedelic, technically superb, and wildly catchy. “Transpose” diverges a bit stylistically, with a rawer, industrial-leaning sound that brings even more dimension to the LP as a whole. It’s clear 羅伯特 is leading both with intention and intuition — finding that delicate balance. It’s a path Yang will undoubtedly keep walking as his already prolific musical career continues to unfold.