La Priest – ‘Inji’

The ex-Late Of the Pier frontman keeps it weird with his solo debut

In 2007, as La Priest, Late Of The Pier singer Sam Dust released ‘Engine’, a 12” single on Erol Alkan’s Phantasy label. The 28-year-old’s old group split in 2010 and now, after touring as a guitarist in oddball New Zealand popper Connan Mockasin’s band and spending five years travelling the world working on “undisclosed” musical projects, comes debut album ‘Inji’.

With his old band, Dust (real surname: Eastgate) became a cult hero renowned for making some of the most brilliantly deranged leftfield electronic-pop of the mid-noughties (see 2008 LOTP debut ‘Fantasy Black Channel’). He hasn’t lost that knack for twisted genius. ‘Inji’ is full of oddities and quirks, from its song titles (‘Gene Washes With New Arm’, ‘Lady’s In Trouble With The Law’) to the music itself. ‘Lorry Park’, for example, is a two-and-a-half minute track built from loops of the singer’s manipulated “ooh”s and “eee”s that make him sound like an awestruck dolphin. ‘Oino’ – guaranteed to be a song of the summer – is a banger. Blending galloping percussion with bursts of bassy synth and a wailing solo, it sounds like a rave in a Middle Eastern desert.

‘Inji’ isn’t only concerned with weirdness, though. It’s also hugely concerned with the complications of love. Closer ‘Mountain’ – a pretty wash of lilting bass and staccato synths – wrestles with destiny and the right to love someone. In knee-knocking falsetto Dust asks, “Was I born to love you?/ Was I born to be with you?”, before answering his own questions: “No, no, no, no, no”. ‘Party Zute / Learning To Love’ – the record’s most instantaneous tune – has him “Learning to love/ Learning to kiss/ Learning to lose your body, never to resist” over squelching, club-ready beats.

Elsewhere, ruminations on love give way to a longing for the past. Over ‘Oino’’s elastic melody he ponders “How long’s it gonna take to rewind time?/ Wanna make you feel like you were always mine”. Dust has an eye on the past in the resigned-sounding ‘Mountain’, too (“When I’m waking from a dream, things are just the way they used to be”). In the here and now, though, as La Priest, he’s made one of the debuts of the year.