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- Light Box by The Fear Ratio
9/10 Ant Staff review, 18 November 2011
UK Techno stalwarts James Ruskin and Mark Broom deliver the goods with their first collaborative LP. These guys can totally bang it when it comes to no nonsense slamming techno for sure. BUT this LP elevates both producers to new levels in terms of what we've heard previously from them. 'Light Box' totally confounds any expectations. What we have here is an eleven track killer album that seamlessly melts dark ambient, techno, post-dubstep, techno, IDM etc. into new tangible shapes. Imagine Scorn, Aphex, T++, Monolake, mid-period Autechre, Black Dog etc. all having a fuckin' massive jam and then some. If I would have heard this record blindfolded I would never have guessed who was behind it. The beats are way more complex than the usual output from Mark and James but each artists individual sound manages to somehow come through. The atmospherics are dark and icy, yet punctured by lots of wonderfuly cerebral melodies with dashes of Kosmische/ Berlin school in the synths. There is a whole lot to absorb with this album and it's proved to reveal itself further over repeated listens. 'Guv 1' sounds like the inside of a moldy sock that's been harbouring germs for ten years inside Mick Harris' basement. It's heavy as fuck yet has a fractured glacial beauty that's as creepy as mid-period Coil. Then the hyper beats of 'Ax' shift the tempo dramatically with lush synthscapes and neck snapping snares which nestle amongst lush off-kilter melodies. Dancefloor euphoria comes with 'Pinhead' with its ass shaking drum programming - big hi-hats and and storming, buzzing Luke Slater - Forklift-esque synth wooshes. It's melodic to boot and I bet it would slay any discerning dancefloor with ease. The cold icy drones and mechanical/ industrial beats of 'Morning Blues' underpin a bassline which is like Maurizio on steroids complete with dubby techno flourishes. 'Guv Three' has a heavy beat which rotates around an Aphexian - Ambient Works Vol. 1 era styled zone which is never a bad thing in my book. It also marks a point in the album where things simmer down into a more discreet reflective sound where the momentum of the earlier tracks slighltly dissolve into the shadows.'Mutant Roach' is full of clicky strange electronics which are layered upon a heavily monged and manipulated female vocal which slips into the darkside along with slow fading emergant drones. The album concludes with 'The Quick And The Dead' which is an ultimately wicked grand-finale of clipped beats, hovering spooked synth melodies and vibrant melancholy. The album works as a complete statement and really illustrates the diverse capabilities of both contributors.
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