RJ Valeo: September

Apparently RJ Valeo has been creating electronic music for over a decade but, notwithstanding a 2002 split release with Acoustic for Thomas Knak's Hobby Industries, September is, formally speaking, his debut—and what a sparkling coming-out it is. With eight tracks totaling just less than forty minutes, it's a mini-album of sorts though duration is a moot point when the tracks are as meticulous and micro-detailed as they are here. Released on John Xela and Stef Lewandowski's Type label, the sensuous tracks on September are filled with understated melodies and incredible grooves. On the pristine surface, the music exudes a glassy sheen but deep within churn fluid bass lines that slither like oily eels. In a style that strongly recalls Warmdesk's Guero Variations, Valeo's recording favours dub-flavoured techno that's refined, fresh, and lush. “Dashi” sets the bar high at the outset by layering a glistening theme onto clanking beats, panning percussion, and serpentine bass lines, but no drop in quality ever arrives. Strong too is “Cypher” which exchanges dub-techno for funkier hip-hop bathed in starbust showers. Two tracks do stand out as especially impressive, however. An incredible, intricate array of whirrs, ripples, and burbles interweave above the dubby rhythm construction in “Vantage Point,” and the amazing “Saturday Afternoon” drops dubby surges and electronic tinklings onto rolling bass patterns and minimal beats; even more striking is the tasteful restraint Valeo exhibits in conjuring the latter's powerful funk rhythms. Quite simply, September is as superb as it is succinct.

September 2004