Rrose RroseArtificial Light (1969-1909)
The only images available of Rrose, or the man we think is Rrose, feature the subject’s face completely hidden by a halo of light. The black and white photos probably aren’t even of him-- they look too old, as if they were taken from some mouldy family album or a French philosophy textbook from the early 20th century. Which, of course, only adds to the mystery surrounding this producer, another one in a long list of artists who choose anonymity in order to let their music be more important than their appearance or private lives. As we might have said before, we don't really care who Rrose is or is not. He could be Regis or Function, or maybe he's another techno noir lover in the vein of those two Birmingham animals, another wandering ghost of the gnawed 4x4, but that doesn't mean everything about him is not fascinating. The black, white and grey artwork, deteriorated, blurry, with grotesque illustrations and a certain obsession with a pagan past, unexpectedly joins the visual dots between hauntology and the gothic inclination of the Blackest Ever Black label, albeit with less bloody artwork.
Rrose loves to play with the rhythmic dynamics of techno, building cycles of beats at a constant speed, which he has been slowing down gradually on his releases for Sandwell District ( “Primary Evidence” and “Merchant Of Salt” were harder, more in the vein of Jeff Mills). On “Artificial Light (1969-1909)” he is at the point where his music is neither fast nor slow, permanently tense, it creates a sickly expectation. He could either start a euphoric acceleration or a horrific pause, but Rrose' expertly manages not to give in to this kind of temptation and, over 22 minutes (the ten of “A, With All Faces Bleached Out” and the twelve of the B-side) spits out techno with the same sobriety and patience with which Aleister Crowley would utter a spell, with infuriating (and hypnotic) monotony. It's a kind of techno eroded by time, influenced by old industrial and purely analog synth music (keep in mind that last year, Rrose released an album based on samples of Bob Ostertag, an obscure American electronic musician from thirty years ago), and the ancient library music used in British horror films of the sixties and seventies. It seemingly wants to liquefy in time, to go back to the age of old technology, when electricity wasn't even a common good yet. Maybe that's where that photo comes from, seemingly lit by an oil lamp, with the mysterious '1909' in the title, a year when magic was still accepted as an alternative source of knowledge. However, never mind the speculations, what we have here is a 12” of brave techno, experimental and on par with anything by Raime or the latest Regis, and it is, without a doubt, the purest stuff coming from Rrose to date. We repeat, we don't know who he is, but he's on his way to become a giant.