Ratcliffe RatcliffeDorus Rijkers EP
ATLANTIC JAXX (JAXX052, 12” + digital)
What with being one half of Basement Jaxx, and soundtracking horror film “Attack The Block”, Simon Ratcliffe is a pretty busy man. Even so, he's still found some time to put out a four track EP of synth magic, under the name of Ratcliffe.
Opening track “Tightrope” begins all smooth cosmic jam, but it only takes ten seconds for the swirly synth arrangements and relentless lasers to kick in. In fact, parts of Ratcliffe's EP sound like they've been crafted from layers of video game soundtracks, with the breaks in the music filled in with sci-fi weapon sounds. Whilst this might not sound like the most sophisticated of noises, the end result is actually something great. There are a few snippets of vocals added into these tracks, but it's the frenetic synth that's really going to catch your attention. “Flying By The Sun” is full of complex patterns, and there's even a bit of a synth solo in there. End track “Cobra” has a weirdly epic feeling to it, and the fullness of sound in each track lends the EP the feeling of a “mini-epic” in itself. By the time you come to the end of “Dorus Rijkers”, it feels like you might have just played through 4 levels of an old school video game.
The unpredictable quality of the EP means there's a lot of sounds packed into a very tight space, and at times it feels like it's hard work to appreciate it all at once. Its schizophrenic nature means that just when you feel like you've figured out where each song is going, it heads in a completely different direction. For example, whilst “Flying By The Sun” is full-on synth, it also sounds like it's borrowed from the jazz genre, which lends the track a sense of being both current and old school.
This isn't an easy listen on the first time round, but it's on a second and third attempt that it starts to win you over. Ratcliffe's definitely carved out a sound that leaps frantically between different genres, which makes it hard to place “Dorus Rijkers” into any particular category, and I think that makes for a refreshing change. This is Simon Ratcliffe striking out in an entirely different direction to Basement Jaxx, and one that is completely his own. I'm not sure I could sit through an entire album of this, but a four track EP feels like the perfect amount of Ratcliffe to comfortably handle.
This will never be a Basment Jaxx banger, but on its own it works pretty damn well. If this is the sound coming straight out of Simon Ratcliffe's head, the man must have a whole lot of other interesting thoughts in there.