Artisan Loyalist is more than a cautious optimist.
As a musician, he deftly turns disappointments into luscious sunsets of ‘80s-inspired synth-pop. His first EP, You’re Glory (2013), layered with soothing ambient textures, was the result of every musician’s worst nightmare — the death of a laptop, the treasure chest for all of his recordings.
His latest effort, Caustics, is set for release on April 27, 2018. The nine-song collection feels warm and wistful — a modern take on an ‘80s summer pool party — inspired by arena pop (Tears for Fears and Genesis), mesmerizing electronic rhythms (Tangerine Dream), and heavy distortion pedals (Killing Joke).
‘Refractor’, the lead single, is a reverb-laden slow dance of hazy synths, punchy drums, jangly guitars and soft coos of “You are / You are the one.” ‘Acres’, which raises the question of legacy, brims with a cascade of cymbals and mellow funk grooves while ‘Cautious Optimist’, a nod to artistic frustrations, shimmers with leisurely synths and guitars — kind of like the rays of light you see refracted at the bottom of a pool.
Caustics, mastered by Joe Lambert (Washed Out, Wild Nothing, Animal Collective), follows Artisan Loyalist’s full-length debut, Lonely Ghost (2015), and is the second in a trilogy of albums.
“I think Caustics is more immediate and relevant because it came together a lot faster,” says Artisan Loyalist… “A lot of the lyrics, too, I wrote very quickly and performed very quickly, so it didn’t feel so obvious or apparent to me what they were about. Instead of being reflective of the past, the lyrics revealed themselves more to me later.”
Artisan Loyalist is the solo music venture of Edmonton-based multi instrumentalist, producer, and composer, Rob Batke. From 2006 to 2014, he was a member of Faunts, a seminal Canadian shoegaze band, featuring his brothers Tim and Steven Batke. Together, they released their breakthrough EP, M4 (2006) and an album, Feel.Love.Thinking.Of. (2009), plus several of their songs appeared in TV shows and video games, including the Mass Effect franchise.
During this time, Batke quietly honed his skills as a solo electronic producer and played a handful of shows as Artisan Loyalist. After Faunts decided to take a break, Batke branched out on his own and remixed other artists, including Sweden’s MF/MB, and Denmark’s Treefight for Sunlight.
In 2012, Batke’s laptop was destroyed. After a brief period of devastation, he entered a pivotal and productive writing journey, which led to his first EP, You’re Glory. He was also commissioned for a remix of 'Gazelle' by synth-pop artist André Obin, which led to Artisan Loyalist signing to New York’s Sky Council Recordings.
He released his second EP, The Ace, in 2014, followed by a full-length debut, Lonely Ghost, in 2015. The album is an expansive and beautiful tour of dreamy pop melodies and electronic textures. With a collection of remixes from artists including Teen Daze, Khotin, and Meet Me In Orbit, Lonely Ghost Remixes was also released in 2015.