A major part of the allure of electronic music as an overarching genre is the niche that it provides to artists who find themselves existing between the defined lines of musical schemas. Ilya Goldberg, known by his moniker of Lapa, is a veritable branch of the growing stylistic tree that contains countless other producers, musicians, and audio engineers whose product is an amalgamation of influences, instrumentation, and performance execution. A violinist, producer, and all-around versatile musician by trade, Ilya himself was a progenitor of the influential rise of combining state of the art live sampling technology and live instrumentation. Having joined Emancipator both on the stage and in the studio from 2011 on, the harmonious interplay of his violin coupled with the composition and brevity of the produced track underneath would go on to captivate tens of thousands across the United States touring and festival circuit. Of course, being the virtuoso that he is, Ilya would eventually go on to flesh out his personal musical vision through the creation of the Lapa project.
2015 saw the first Lapa studio release titled “Meeting of the Waters”. A creamy concoction of downtempo and ambient soundscapes, the album is riddled with the back and forth conversations of brilliant string movements and tonally smooth synthesis. Having set the standard for his musical output, Lapa has now released a second full-length album, “Spirit Vessel”. It is a vibrant blend of organic and digital timbres, with a strong emphasis on instrumentation. The album instantly stands out as an artifact of venerable significance, an archetype for the hybridization of musical styles.
“Back to Africa” begins with a wondrous major melody, and becomes a musical allusion to the sensation of weightlessness once the staccato hi-hats are introduced. As the beat breaks down to the ever familiar boom-bap shuffle, filtered arpeggios dance in and out of the mix, gently following the key of various melody tones trading the lead line around the aural space. Passing the halfway point of the track, those familiar, floaty tones reemerge, bursting into existence in and around a climactic bridge of percussion and sustained monophonic note-play.
“Stoika”, a collaborative effort with Random Rab, starts off with high-treble strings producing triplet arpeggios, followed shortly thereafter by the percussive cushion that props up the melody. The song is almost entirely organic tones until midway, when psychedelic synth lines float in and out existence through smooth filters and choice touches of reverb. The cumulative blend of repetitious textures create an ongoing head-nod hypnosis that begs to be rinsed through over and over again.
The album concludes with “Empty Space”, a 13-minute musical narrative that summons imagery of damp rainforests adorned with vaporous clouds that rests just atop the canopy. Background tones gradually rise and fall on chromatic scales while vivacious refrains introduce new melodies at a constant rate. It feels so expertly produced for fidelity, and simultaneously feels so far from the synthetic overtures of so many similar musical endeavors. The track comes to a beautifully amorphous conclusion, transitioning from a rhythmic composition to an ambient adventure, and settles on a harmony fit for the horns of welcoming angels.
Beyond just the brilliance of the studio album itself, the Lapa live performance is a treat all its own. With drummer Brandon Warren and multi-instrumentalist Nickles D’Onofrio, Lapa is a fully functioning live act that combines Ableton Live and its powerful looping, sequencing, and sampling capabilities with the rooting tones of drums, bass guitar, and violin. Playing on DJ tropes and theories concerning transitions and mixing tracks, the performance is a seamless start to finish ballet of the auditory minds atop the stage. If good fortune comes to pass, hopefully Lapa and his outfit will be gracing ears live and in action sooner rather than later. With his newest album available across most major distribution and streaming platforms, there is no excuse for being out of the loop when it comes to this virtuoso of his craft.