B-12’s Steven Rutter returns to Firescope with an emotion soaked solo album

Artist: Steven Rutter
Title: BrainFog
Label: Firescope
Cat Num: FS012
Release Date: Out Now!
Genre: Electronica

It’s been great to see Steve Rutter bobbing up solo and with B-12 again over the last couple of years. Releasing quality again on imprints such as Warp, Delsin, Central Processing Unit, and Soma. With this release, Steve continues to create a fresh identity from underneath the vast shadow that B-12 cast with his second full-length solo album, ‘BrainFog’. The press release states Steve pieced ‘BrainFog’ together over the last 2 years and that the majority of the inspiration draws from a dark time in his life where he found himself hospitalised and near death.

‘BrainFog’, which I’ll just label as electronica for the sake of argument, is drenched in a shimmering melancholia and a sense of nostalgic reflection, captured in some far-flung sci-fi fantasy. ‘BrainFog’ often feels like it’s soundtracking some future set, 1984 style dystopia. Opener, ‘Sleep Gives Freedom’ sets the dreamy pace with thin, slowly evolving strings. Wispy hats tapping in rolling triplets, like expectant fingers across a table, while in the background someone seems to be tuning an electric violin with a shared of glass. Held in suspense, a gentle breeze maneuvers an eerie synth around you like some yellow fog. The sharp, flange infused hats patter over clever, pots n pans percussion as a vocal that’s sampled off a wrong number from another dimension fades in and out at regular intervals. Magic!

The album is peppered with predominantly ambient pieces, often driven by gentle Middle Eastern feeling percussion, light shuffling hats, or less. ‘Oracle Unleashed’ comes in like it’s a bad day to be an extra in Aliens, and feels like the most ‘electro’ track on the album without actually taking off. The tension provided by the synth creates an amazing atmosphere. ‘First Degree Anguish’ is a mesmerizing beauty with chimes born from a wine glass symphony.

Before I run out of words I should point out that the entire album isn’t completely cast in grey. While the same sense of depth and reflection is consistent, there’s a great selection of subtle, funky, hardware jams, from Statutek which rolls into focus with a slow, sharp marching 4/4 snap, carrying a light Atari melody which is filled out by a slap style synth funk, and splashes of deep, thin synths.

‘Squad Free Force’ pops and locks like an old Run DMC production as a deep synth glides through like soft moon casting a cold light over plink plonk melodies and squiggly acid. ‘While Take Down’ is a low slung, jackin’ little piece driven by the delightful interplay of pseudo-industrial percussion and assorted rhythmic elements.’Infinity Engine’ is probably my favourite track on the album… an enchanted marching band held by a hovering, mournful chord forges towards somewhere better, the kick drops and a curious mid bass synth lines darts in between the ever-shuffling percussion. Really reminded me of some old Dan Curtin tracks, which is a pretty big compliment from this chin stroker.

It’s hard to speak to anyone’s state of mind, especially in regards to illness, but this album is clearly a glorious exercise in catharsis as Steve preservers with painting sonic rainbows on his grey canvass. With quality like this, you’d like to hope it’s brighter days ahead for Steve Rutter.

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About the Author

Growing up in Melbourne Matt’s introduction to electronic music happened during the legendary rave scene erupting in the warehouses of Melbourne’s industrial West. Matt grew up on all the classics, Carl Cox’s 'F.A.C.T', Laurent Garnier’s ‘Laboratoire’ mix, and of course all the Reactivates and early K7 mixes. During the winter of 1995, Derrick May & Stacey Pullen introduced Matt to Detroit techno, and that was that. Soon after Jeff Mills released ‘Live at The Liquid Room’ and Matt already all consuming interest in deejaying and techno exploded. Fast forward 20 plus years and Matt is still obsessed with electronic music, records and deejaying. Now a resident for the flagship Australian techno label, Nightime Drama, Matt has played alongside some of the biggest names in techno including Jeff Mills, Luke Slater, Derrick May, DJ Bone, Dasha Rush, Kangding Ray, and many more.