RTR – 61 Cygnus

4 out of 5

Label: Analogical Force

Produced by: RTR

I really, really want to give this one to RTR, because individually – and maybe even broken down into some set runs of tracks – each song on 61 Cygnus is perfection. RTR is no stranger to, er, liberally borrowing from the Aphex / Squarepusher playbooks, but they’ve often done a fine job of either wholly resurrecting those styles – not mimicry, but essentially creating “as” these artists – or appending to their sounds to push the tune toward one of RTR’s ownership. Cygnus is somehow the next step to combine these approaches, without any pretense whatsoever of what this blazing fast IDM or jazz-funk mish-mash reminds you of, and then dually evolving the sound in ways the originals wouldn’t have, with amazing percussion or tonal sweeps that bring the tracks to another level. It’s incredibly fun.

And it’s not the whole album! RTR is still hanging out in the 90s Rephlex echelon, but it’s good company, and the artist gives it his modern edge: ambience and notes of grime on Sidereal and 303 Roll, some delightful downtempo work on parts of Spaceopera or Reverse Life; again, every single track here is fresh, and perfectly paced and timed – not a beat too many, or anything too abrupt. And from a top-down perspective, the spread of killer BPMs, more accessibly dancey stuff, and the brief breaths of chill is kept at a great ratio.

But there’s that thing that often daunts RTR’s full-lengths: sequencing. And that crops up here as well. Opener Acidnknight is an earful of slaughter – it’s non-stop AFX madness, and it’s fantastic. RTR likes to start off his recordings like this, quite often, but it’s hard to back it up. They go with more ambient geared tracks right after, but the vast majority of 61 Cygnus is fast-paced without middleground, so it makes it tough to hit the transition back. The Squarepusher-esque Jzzaax has some patience in making that shift, but we then hit three straight tracks in a row that are at fever pitch, though 2999 could be seen as a purposefully linked coda to Jzzaax, and followup DSDE is, on vinyl, separated by an LP switchup. Once on the B-side, it’s a bit smoother, as tracks here tend to combine moods instead of stick to one or the other, but there are still a couple of abrupt changes.

I think just a couple of track swaps could clear these things up for RTR, but 61 Cygnus is still the best album they’ve yet to deliver, without any song that I’d want to do without – I’d just have them in a slightly different order to make the front to back listen seamless.