French producer ROÜGE’s debut LP for Detriti Ultimatum handily splits the difference between modern techno EBM and cyberpunk flavour. That latter quality is hard to define, but is certainly tangible throughout the record; while the basslines and thudding percussion of tracks like “Sympathy” and “Potential Danger” are easily traceable to body music, there’s more than a bit of 90s Hackers-style electronica to their propulsiveness as well – Empirion or Hardfloor aren’t outrageous points of comparison. While not especially unique sonically, it’s ROÜGE’s ear for details that keeps the record fresh, as when she pulls back on the tempo and throws in some swinging cymbals on “Nuclear” or the ever-ascending synth motif on opener “Welcome to Agartha”. You can especially hear her expressing distinct production styles on the album’s two big techno bangers: “Mind Games” smooths down a bubbling bassline and equips big stabs for a peak time dancefloor cut, while “Cosmic Mission” is an uptempo yet chill headnodder. Well-executed and listenable outside of a club context, it’s music that matches up to modern neon aesthetics quite nicely.
You gotta come pretty correct with us if you’re describing yourself as “Vancouver school” electro-industrial, but Finland’s Cardinal Noire have always done that, giving us heady, trippy, and heavy modern classics. But with the new W424 side-project, one half of CN heads into a much sludgier and noise-touched direction. Across eight tracks, Lasse Alander zooms in on the grinding textures which have been found at the edges of Cardinal Noire’s sound and makes them the primary focus. While some Carpenter-esque harmonies can be found in the title track and “150 000 Years Later”, not to mention the soundtrack vistas of “206”, things are generally kept thudding, scraping, and grimy on Alandlord, whether in the form of the minimalist clang of “Face The VIper” or the wheezing martial klaxons of “Fragile Body”. As much as we all love to celebrate the lo-fi roots of so many of our crucial electro-industrial acts, hearing someone with Alander’s talents for sound design render that grit and distortion in high-def is a real treat.