Steven Ruttler – Riddle Me Sane (Firescope Records)
Steven Rutter aka B12 is a prominent figure in the world of techno. The seminal album Electro Soma came out on Warp Records in 1993, it was one of many releases on the label.
Their early productions paved the way for what is now the deep techno genre. A personal favourite of mine from this period is from their second Warp album – Time Tourist, the first track, Cmetric – VOID/COMM, incredible track. B12 was originally a duo with Michael Golding, eventually leading to Rutter keeping the B12 alias going alone.
Riddle Me Sane will be the third album he has done under his own name and is in keeping with the futuristic, deep, dark sound we are used to. But this is definitely a progression; an evolution.
Firescope Records is run by the man himself - Steven Rutter. The ethos of the label is the same that has applied to the B12 label and any music that Rutter has ever been involved in. Quality music, quality artwork/packaging and quality production. Simple and effective.A quick dive into the back catalogue and its easy to see that he is succeeding in his mission. The names on the label are a veritable smorgasbord of some of the finest names in techno at the moment – B12/Rutter (obviously), Derek Carr, John Shima, Miles Atmospheric and Bauri to name but a few.
On to the music. The opening track, Going Through Life starts with a four/four kick, almost stuttering pads, and bleeps. Synth lines slowly appear from all angles, slightly disorienting you in the most delightful way, until percussion and a bassline bring things together. Swarming Module is an electro cut with bleeps and blips that sound like electronic rain. In the Light of the Moon starts with eerie pads, a bass sound with percussion, and a bleepy stab make for a broken beat kind of groove, when the electro kick come in it is simply sublime.
Intravenous Deception starts with haunting pads and percussion and sporadic kicks, a synth line that sounds like an alien trying to talk to you comes in. This line morphs as the track progresses, the track evolves but keeps the unnerving feeling throughout. Next is LifeLine. Atmospheric pads, percussion, a broken beat that seems to roll out of the ether. After the tension of the last track this almost feels like coming out of a bad trip into a (possibly/hopefully) better situation.Techno Prisoner would be the first track on the second vinyl. A shuffling beat, falling, folding analogue stabs roll over and into each other, the percussion keeps things together, and pads create some tension. Ohm Sweet starts with deep backward sounding echoed noise and spooky pads, then a heavy strong broken beat kick comes in. Off kilter, almost awkward sounding aggressive stabs come in. the tension in this track is amazing, I absolutely love it.
Rolling snares, disorientation in headphones this is incredible – Id love to hear this over a massive sound system. Interscape Scene Three, swirling pads, broken beat, bleeping stabs, shuffling percussion. Again, just expert production, expert programming. I can imagine this being the soundtrack to interstellar travel as you look out across the cosmos from your space craft, or maybe from the one you were abducted onto. Tear at my Flesh.
Heavy kick broken beat, deep bassy stab, extremely deep sub bass, wobbling about below somewhere. The last track of the album – Stuck in a Loop. Nice slow four/four chug tempo track. This has a more hopeful sound to it. Almost like this is the soundtrack to knowing you are zooming through space back to safety. A beautiful way to round of an epic album.
This was made to be listened to as an album from start to finish – and I highly recommend you do so, but every track is playable individually in its own right. The science fiction feel of this album is present throughout. It definitely feels like a journey through space and that Rutter is trying to communicate a story. A soundtrack to a film that only exists in your head once you listen to it.
This is a stunning album from start to finish. Deep, dark at times, but never so dark as to make it heavy or unenjoyable. There is an underlying almost hypnotic groove to everything here. Most tracks are a sort of broken beat, but one that can be mixed with four/four. These are those stand out tracks that are used to break the monotony of a nonstop four to the floor techno sets (when we used to get out – remember that?). Science fiction space funk at its finest.