RTR – PlanetX

3 out of 5

Label: Analogical Force

Produced by: RTR

Every track on RTR’s full-length debut, PlanetX, ranges from being fantastically original braindance – RTR swooping through Rephlex influences and setting them to a wild, boogie-ing, deconstructive beat – on-point, respectful, dancefloor ready mimicry of some classic styles; and at the very worst (with that “worst” not being even close to a bad thing), interesting drill and bass / IDM experiments. In shorter words, there’s not a single bad song on here.

Unfortunately, it’s also nothing like an album; it’s a collection of songs. And that varying sensibility, which maybe pauses too long between its true standouts, makes it rather underwhelming, when an opening track like MFSIYFF makes that seem like an impossibility. That song is, certainly, an all-timer, whirlwinding through BPM insanity and drum rushes and funk, before the Aphex / AFX recognizability factor is turned on its head, and the track begins to eat itself, bringing melody to the fore in a way that gives RTR ownership of the sound. An untitled track follows, and is much more mellow and paced, but it’s appealingly confident; it’s a short interstitial that indicates the artist has range.

The next few tracks is where PlanetX starts to go a bit astray, as RTR begins to prioritize a bit of showmanship over finding a unique voice, making Untitled21 into something of a generic bit of IDM wankery, and UntilienX5’s starts and stops of that plus some experimental effects pretty much a momentum killer. Acygx1 concludes the first LP with another relatively short song – 3 minutes – and seems like an attempt to balance the scales with a straight-forward club banger type, but it’s the wrong place in the album (considering the preceding tracks) for something so “normal,” even if it’s got a good beat.

The C-side tries a different tactic: modern-era Squarepusher. Limbes is an excellent tribute to that sound, if only lacking the extra nuance that made the opening song such a winner. However, Jenkinson’s inherent grooves seems to inspire a trend that sticks for several songs hereafter, and PlanetX gains some linearity starting with the well-named Reward – an absolutely bouncey winner that’s as much fun in its laid back vibe as MFSIYFF was in its intensity – and continuing for the C and D-sides, skillfully blending dashes of IDM with upbeat jams, and adding some downbeat moments that lead to the Astrobotnia-esque closer, Aurevoir-R.

The breadth of what’s on display on PlanetX is definitely impressive, and track by track, there are a small selection of masterpieces, and a large handful of jaw-dropping moments and head-bobbing beats. But until towards the end of the album, RTR hops around a bit too much, fouling up the album’s flow and losing of a bit of their voice. But it’s definitely still a strong set overall, bearing that in mind, and certainly encouraging of what’s to come.