Rumpistol: Talk to You
Rump Recordings

Rump Recordings head Jens Berents Christiansen describes the sounds emanating from his latest Rumpistol EP, Talk to You, as “broken soul,” and the label probably serves as good an entry point into the release as any. However you wish to describe it, the EP's tracks are rich indeed, with each distinguished by the producer's well-developed and meticulous ear for detail. Without betraying his allegiance to abstract electronica, Christiansen's turned his attention to soul and dubstep in equal measure for the EP, with wonky rhythms and vocal elements (samples, and some sung by Christiansen himself) working together to produce ear-catching results. Even a single listen to the release suggests that artists such as Burial, Flying Lotus, Zomby, and Mount Kimbie might have been crowding his iPod of late.

There's often a strange disjunct in the music between the despair hinted at in the titles and the often exuberant instrumental character of the songs, though that's not always the case. The angst-ridden vocal part in the opening song, “Talk To You,” for instance, acts as a mournful complement to the largely brooding instrumental backing Christiansen provides. Its slow tempo allows it to unfold at a leisurely clip, but that's all the better for appreciating the rich array of sounds the producer includes in the song. There's a clockwork-like intricacy to its arrangement, with everything from a vocal warble, recurring guitar stab, ominous synth drone, and snare flourish appearing along the way, plus there's a mid-song breakdown featuring classical keyboard patterns that's especially nice. The “broken” dimension of the Rumpistol persona comes to the fore during “Don't Go” when sound splinters appear in fragmented form, so tenuously connected they barely hold the song's rhythm base together. The vocals here largely amount to little more than wordless gospel-soul chanting, a move that in turn shifts the focus to the song's low-end synth swarm and bluesy electric guitar playing. “We're Not Gonna Make It,” on the other hand, brings the music's dubstep leanings into sharper focus, with a bass wobble the anchor for a singer's soulful exhalation of the song's title. “Through All This Madness” exudes a greater degree of resignation than the other tracks, as it slithers through a molasses-thick bed of slow-motion grime while a male vocalist utters the title with no modicum of downtrodden weariness. Halfway through the track, a twanging guitar theme pushes its way to the surface, carving a path for a backbeat pulse to emerge that can't help but invite Burial comparisons.

The first of the digital bonus cuts, “In This Song,” starts out in fluttering dubstep mode before sneaking in a synth melody that suggests Christiansen's been absorbing the work of Hyperdub's artists too. Once again the title appears as a truncated vocal snippet from a larger whole, in this case a part lifted from Bowie's “Five Years” (“I don't think you knew you were in this song”). System's rambunctiously swinging remix of “Talk To You”—claps and off-beat hi-hats never sounded so good—gives the Rumpistol original such a deliciously energized punch, one wonders whether the group shouldn't have been brought on board as collaborators for the entire set. It all adds up to a solid and utterly well-crafted EP whose contents are anything but throwaway.

June 2011