RTR – Compuphonic

4 out of 5

Label: Weme

Produced by: RTR (?)

From the bandcamp blurb for RTR’s Compuphonic: “(it) flirts with dancefloor from imagined science fiction future set in Detroit,” and, well, damn if I don’t roll my eyes with the overuse of electro buzzwords, but also damn if that isn’t super exactly accurate.

Sifting through Rephlex odds and ends, RTR manages that difficult swerve of offering up all sorts of influences – some Bogdan wiggle; u-Ziq funk; pepped up Drexciya – without sounding like mimicry; Compuphonic is both old and new, awash in retro sounds with a modern bite. It’s not synthwave, but I’d use that as a reference for something that straddles different generations’ sensibilities; at the same time, this EP is not nearly as limited as much of synthwave (sort of by design) can be – it’s got a dancefloor backing, segueing in and out of video-gamey scores, but RTR has a slippery way of being both devious and fun sounding at the same time, with mid-tracks SSDDZZ and Lith being prime examples of that.

The only reason for the slight knock on rating is that I can’t quite suss out what opener Blade is doing – it opens with some awesomely aggressive and grooving IDM, but halfway through it not-transitions into some Detroit, slinky acid. I can’t wrap my head around it – every time I think it’s a separate track. This pattern isn’t repeated on any other song, and oddly, it doesn’t even feel like it concludes properly, it just kind of ends, and then SSDDZZ struts into town. Both halves of the song are quality, it’s just the only part of this otherwise excellent set of tracks that doesn’t flow for me.