RTR – The Splash of a Drop

4 out of 5

Label: Weme Records

Produced by: RTR (?)

Man, RTR is so weird. The artist has nabbed my attentions with some incredible era- / subgenre-spanning creations, but has also gotten lost in some more derivative moments. I mean, drawing clear lines in electro is hard, especially when certain genre stalwarts loom so large, but it’s made it hard to get a read on how “purposeful” is the design of RTR’s works.

The Splash of a Drop is one of the hardest to decipher yet, I suppose in part because it’s playing into my tendency to look for patterns / structure to the music – with the artwork depicting various stages of the EPs title, each stage mapped to a song; and each side of the recording ending with a track named “Phase 1” or “Phase 2” – and also because I’d say it’s the most subtle of the works RTR has offered to this point, misleadingly seeming (beyond the bravado of its breakbeat-touched opener) pretty much like straightforward 90s Rephlex braindance.

Which isn’t a bad thing, but again, it’s the problematic influence thing: we have a few labels mining that classic sound right now, and it’s hard not to just let your thought drift to “this sounds like…” Global Goon, or u-Ziq, or other more melodically-geared creators.

However, this is one of those recordings that reaps rewards the more you dig into it. I do think that more typical vibe exists here – maybe specifically on those Phase tracks, damning me to continue searching for structure – but elsewhere, it’s that RTR prioritizes a very chill vibe that makes it easy to overlook what they’re doing within that vibe: which is, once more, leaping across eras and crafting what feels like an alternate future of electronica, one in which we never stopped championing braindance, but also maybe we never moved out of the 16-bit era of technology. Yeah, that lends it a kind of naive emotional layer, which is that chill sensibility, but that doesn’t equate to lack of structural depth; if there is something to the sequencing, it’s RTR conditioning us to this timeshift, starting off with slightly more aggressive and directly playful fare before the B-side is more fully given over to being laid-back about the whole thing.

I don’t know; I am most certainly wrong. But if your ears give this a pass after those first couple tracks – which mine did – I’d recommend giving it some time, especially with headphones, during which the delayed “surprise” of how much fun and varied these songs are is given a chance to come to the fore.