The heavenly Luttrell album Into Clouds has made its descent to Earth, and it’s a positively glorious deep house offering of the most celestial order. Reflecting on themes of empowerment and vulnerability Eric Luttrell himself experienced after going solo from his longtime project The M Machine in 2017, this album is a culmination of self-discovery with a sound so lush and gorgeous, it feels all-encompassing. Listening to these songs in high-quality headphones gives you the sense of being inside them — the breathtaking sound design seems to be moving through my whole being instead of just passing through my headphones. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to catch up with Luttrell and find out what’s going on in the creative mind toiling away behind his zen demeanor and signature, immaculately-groomed handlebar mustache.
All 10 tracks of the album are outrageously beautiful, big-feels trance and deep house cuts that reflect his long lost high school days where he acquired a taste for used trance CDs because he loved the chord progressions. Evolving from his role in The M Machine to releasing as Luttrell, he says he’d never made music alone before and that freedom was something he eventually really wanted. “Since 2008 or so I was working with Andy and Swardy (his fellow M Machine members) so I never had my own thing. I never got to finish something and say okay, it’s done, I’m going to put it out,” he explained. It turns out Eric has a terrific knack for knowing when a song is done because, in my not-so-humble-opinion, every song Luttrell releases is cooked to perfection. While many producers toil over changing little things, it seems he has the ability to choose exactly the right sonic ingredients and know exactly when it’s finished.
“I didn’t have big plans to shop these (Luttrell songs) around to labels or anything. But it just so happened that when we were mixing the last M Machine album Glare at Mat Zo’s house down in LA I showed him some of my solo stuff and he thought it would be a great fit for Anjuna.” Mat was quite correct and since then, Luttrell has been a staple on Anjunadeep, the deep house sub-label of Anjunabeats, and Anjuna’s tours ever since.
From the first 18 seconds of Into Clouds, it’s apparent that we’re about to embark on a luxury, tranced-out feels-trip. Luttrell’s ability to lace the most pronounced, blissed-out trance sounds into the deepest of deep house grooves makes him fit right in amongst Above & Beyond’s masterfully curated Anjuna family. “There is something special about the Anjuna community, and I don’t know exactly what it is,” he said. “I think in general there’s just a really positive and inclusive vibe to the whole thing, starting with Above & Beyond. Their whole thing is about being super positive and helping each other out, they encourage people to be friendly, look out for one another, and love one another. That’s where it all starts I guess, and maybe that vibe attracts a certain type of person. It attracts people who really care about the music and really care about each other.”
That community is uniquely suited to appreciate the relentlessly pretty sound he’s been cultivating over the years, which Eric admits with zero animosity was something he could only really explore on his own because there are always compromises in collaboration. When asked if hints of what to come with his Luttrell project was foreshadowed in any old M Machine tracks, Eric said some of the songs he had a dominant hand in like “A King Alone” contain hints of his future sonic stylings. You can hear the Luttrell-tastic shininess in the production from the track’s opening notes and it has a progression that builds like a house track. As “A King Alone” moves along, I feel more and more like throwing my head back and letting loose on a full-body shimmy, and that’s exactly how every Luttrell release makes me feel. It’s so pretty and clean, so much so that every little detail in the soundscape feels like you can reach out and touch it.
We do not recommend skimping on a start-to-finish listen: Into Clouds is absolutely worth a comprehensive listen. But, of course, there are a few favorites like “Windowscene,” which seems to be tinged with just a bit of heartache coming through the swirling sonic reverie of glittering keys dancing over a beautifully bright bed of intricately layered synths. The second track “Out Of Me” has a throbbing, tribal edge to the beat; I feel completely hypnotized within the first 45 seconds of the song, and of course there’s the obligatory gorgeous, immersive soundscape. “Quiet Even Dark” is a dancefloor anthem with an instant vocal hook that builds and holds tension in the most satisfying way. “Haunted Jungle Cruise” is the most unexpected of the lot, living up to its name immediately with eerie nature sounds and a foreboding albeit angelic synth; it’s legitimately a bit scary! It’s also extremely dramatic with a slow-burning build-up that finally gives way to a tapestry of ghostly sounds that feel like they’re blowing in the wind.
“If there is an underlying theme it’s about transition, about entering an unknown space in your life and then choosing a direction and just going for it,” Eric said with a sentiment that feels a bit like “Haunted Jungle Cruise” sounds: full of the unknown variables, super scary, but also extremely awesome. “This new adventure as Luttrell has been uncertain and a little weird and a little scary cause it’s just me now, and everything that happens now is all on me,” he said. “But I think fans of my past stuff will really like it, this album pushes my sound a bit but keeps within the realms of musicality that people are used to from me.” Enter these cosmic realms below with Into Clouds below.