ROÜGE - Legacy

Midnight Mana

Time is a flat circle, sure, fine, but ROÜGE’s 2021 Ultimatum was still a shock to the the system of any industrial club-goer old enough to recall when the high BPM and harshly processed programming of tracks like “Mind Games” and “Nuclear” were in fashion nearly twenty years previous under the emerging sub-genre of aggrotech. It’s important to clarify that French producer Killiane Chemineau’s tracks were arriving at the same locus as a good portion of the Deathwatch Asia roster via an entirely different pedigree; a techno background spoken to by her associations with Ritmo Fatale and HÖR, plus a good amount of thematic inspiration from metal and gaming led to the uncanny recurrence. With new LP Legacy the specific line of Chemineau’s development becomes clearer, even as other accidental touchstones appear.

Some of the heavy distortion which marked Ultimatum has been buffed out, leaving a still hard-hitting but glossier suite of seven tracks on Legacy. In general, these speed up the fluid and at times brightly ornamented style of dark techno one might find on the latest Bite releases into 140+ BPM territory. The galloping triplets of a tune like “Tsuki”, in combination with its dramatic, hushed builds and falls might not exactly end up at aggrotech per se, but they’re still not far off from the likes of mid-period Grendel or the first Memmaker record. Similarly, “Until Next Moon” will cause some of us with the first whispers of arthritis to flash back to the hard trance-influenced approach to EBM and rhythmic noise taken by the likes of Soman, Shaolyn, and Phosgore decades past. Thankfully, Chemineau’s production is a good step above that of the latter camp, and more substantively the surprising softness of the melodic and harmonic elements woven into tracks like that one speaks to a sense of restraint and consideration which was rarely present in the oontz-heavy days of clubdustrial.

ROÜGE’s arrival at that point brings fresh thematics and supporting programming, again likely the result of her extra-musical interests. The key and groove, if not the literal hook, of “Stage 01” recalls the “Peter Gunn” theme, at least as it was definitively rendered in Spy Hunter (eat your heart out, Art Of Noise), and the flourishes of guitar on “Doomed” bring the soundtracks to umpteen Japanese fighting games to mind as much as industrial metal. Capping things off, the halftime EBM of closer “Cold Hearts Don’t Win” is quite simply the sort of murderous floorkiller both industrial rock bands and current TBM producers would give their eyeteeth to have under their belts.

In “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote“, Jorge Luis Borges imagines the duplication of a great work of literature, line for line, word for word, but with the new “version” acquiring new complexities and resonance based on the centuries-later historical context from which it emerges. Apart from the clear sense for taste and production Chemineau brings to Ultimatum, it’d be very difficult for a substance-addled club-goer to spot the difference between Legacy‘s top tracks and a number of prime 2008 industrial club hits. But that someone of an entirely different generation has come to this sound of their own accord via techno, and is breathing new life into it based on their own experiences and interests, is what makes Legacy shine like Menard’s Quixote.

Buy it.