Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lackluster-Slice (2005)


Cutting you a slice out of my chill-out collection tonight with the Finnish ambient electronic music producer, Esa Juhani Ruoho, better known by his quirky stage name of Lackluster. As I was listening to his 2005 album, I started to wonder how these electronic music artists come up with the titles to each of their individual creations, seeing as they're purely instrumentals and beats without any lyrics attached to them. I could visualize Lackluster being cluttered in a small office (well, in his case, his flat, as I've read that's where he arranges all of his music) and tumbling things around, trying to find music notes written on paper and audio equipment and such, then using that as the inspiration for the opening track. Or maybe he was washing his car outside in the garage while he was putting together this album's third track. "Plastic 1"? Maybe he was undoing the bubble wrap to something he ordered off of eBay before he finished working on that one. "Plastic 1" would be one of the two tracks I'd heard some years back that had gotten me interested in Lackluster's music—a cool, dancey downtempo-stora beat that starts off slow before building up to a faster tempo. One could call it 'space disco' even, especially when you add in those blips and other noise effects that prove Lackluster's influence of those old 8-bit video games from the 80's (was fun reading that bit about his music background, considering that I myself was a die-hard gamer back in that memorable decade). Even harder than "Plastic 1" (I would have used 'cooler' as the adjective here, but somehow, 'harder' seems more fitting) is the second Lackluster track that I heard from years back: "Touches". It's that eerie, hypnotic melody ringing through my ears mixed in with the infectious synthpop beat that gets me hooked to the music here; always a fan of the strange and eerie. I love those suspenseful cuts too, and Track #5's "Wallow" is full of it, punctuated by the thumping beat against the smooth ambient soundscape. I could probably guess how Lackluster came up with the title to Track #8's "Zithertrak2". The zither, of course, which certainly seems to be the primary instrument synthesized here against those eerie drones. That video game influence I mentioned a moment ago? It's definitely there on the track right after: "Iniquity" (was he busy committing some scandalous sin during this song's production?). Those of you who remember that old arcade game called "Mappy" will think the Finnish producer sampled those exact same sound effects of that law-enforcing rodent jumping on the ropes that allowed him to reach each level of those appliance-filled fortresses. Your slice of the pie isn't complete without something cool to top it off, and that would be the musical adventure that is "Subvert", a cacophony of distorted vocals and deep grooves that sounds more vibrant and alive than anything else featured on the twelve previous offerings:

1. Tumbling Around
2. Meanie
3. Wash
4. Plastic 1
5. Wallow
6. Clover
7. Touches
8. Zithertrak2
9. Iniquity
10. Bkt Reprise
11. Hugytrak
12. Ender
13. Subvert

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