FEAR RATIO, The aka JAMES RUSKIN/MARK BROOM - Light Box (Front Cover)
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Review:
James Ruskin and Mark Broom are known as doyens of UK techno, but a closer look at their catalogues suggests that there is a less well-documented side to their work. Ruskin's last album for Tresor skirted around the edges of IDM and abstract electronics, while Broom was responsible for the excellent downbeat project, Midnight Funk Association. Light Box however is the first time that they have given full vent to their love of techno's abstract side. Drawing heavily on the intelligent techno sound of Warp's 90s catalogue, on "Pinhead" the heavy, recoiling bass and foreboding synths are reminiscent of LFO or Nightmares on Wax in bleep techno mode. "Antirac" recalls a more austere sound from this period, its icy synth lines and distended, fractured rhythms coming across like an update of Amber-era Autechre. That's not to suggest that Broom and Ruskin are engaged in revisiting old glories. "Bronik" is a wild combination of glitchy percussion and oppressive jungle sub-bass, while "Mas" integrates swirling synths with house beats and thundering claps for the only straight dance floor track on Box. Meanwhile, "Guv 3" and "The Quick & The Dead" re-imagine the sensuous electronic melodies of vintage Plaid and Black Dog in a contemporary setting, against a backdrop of splurging basslines and stepping rhythms, and "Morning Blues" provides the album highlight, its rumbling, Shed-like break beats wrapped around a melody line that recalls a more wide-eyed time.

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