RTR – Symmetriades

4 out of 5

Label: Analogical Force

Produced by: RTR

A healthy 90s Rephlex / Aphex obsession gives RTR their starting point for 10 IDM workouts, varying between notable and jaw-dropping quality, including just the right dose of outright swipes to get our familiarity circuits a’buzzing before massaging the track into a more unique design.

Interestingly, despite the breakbeat bravado here – have your mind-numbed by the wall-of-sound BPM of VBSVBSWG.AQ@mm, for example – Symmetriades is all about restraint, perhaps sometimes to a fault. While undoubtedly possessing of the skills to crowd the music out with layers of effects and synths, as shown in selected straight-from-the-Rephlex-vaults moments in the set’s first few tracks, once a core groove (or that recognizability quotient) has been established, RTR often smartly peels back, trying to revel more in that central beat over showmanship. It’s a smart way to have the best of a few worlds – perhaps something to the album’s title – letting us boogie between sweaty club stoppers and head-bobbing beats, with the former leading to a lot of fun percussive elements, and the latter adding a layer of melodic keys atop, which are very much responsible for turning the songs toward RTR’s particular brand of IDM.

But there’s that aforementioned restraint: a curious downplaying of peaks. Tracks will often hit at running speed and then veritably stop in the middle, before transitioning to a new section, which much to link the two parts. Somewhat similarly, there’s a lack of conclusion to songs in the first half or so. None of this is as ruinous as it may sound, though, because RTR seems to be countering both effects by keeping things at various cusps, never pushing things too far or too minimal, like a warm-up. The track that breaks from this is the one I called out already – arriving halfway through, VBSVBSWG.AQ@mm has its mid-section break, but returns to come back even more furious than it arrived, which gaves way to the closing set of tracks, which end up being the album’s strongest, while also not being its showiest. It’s in these last few songs – again, we consider the album’s title being suggestive of balance, halves of the set paired against one another – that RTR allows beats to run their course, not halting things partway through or perhaps holding things back by being too nostalgia-inclusive; these are just solid, immersive, emotive songs, full stop.

The whole thing is suggestive of purpose, and that pays off, carrying us through the fun and somewhat familiar to works that stand completely on their own.