Rusuden: Warm Human Antennae
Soho Six

Warm Human Antennae is not only the latest outing from Rusuden (Justin Morgan) but also the premiere recording issued by Morgan's Kentucky-based label. If the album's contents aren't quite as alien sounding as its cover image might suggest, the Sonicterror vet's thirteen pieces definitely travel divergent paths. First of all, there's no doubting Morgan's skills; he proves himself thoroughly capable of generating tracks in an increasingly familiar polyglot style that weaves together elements from IDM, techno, hip-hop, and synth-pop. The set opens strongly with electric guitars filtering through swishing beats in the downtempo “Wear Away the Filter” while “June (October Mix)” sprays acid over languid hip-hop beats. The confused techno of “Fell Asleep Laughing” works up a powerful rumble with plunking keys burrowing through a thick miasma of scuzzy beats, voice babble, and blurry noise, while zither strums add Moroccan flavour to the dark ambiance of “Grumble Grumble.” Tripped-out machine beats and rollicking, scurrying pulses animate other tracks, with only the hidden track, a collage of fragments and noises, sullying the album's otherwise credible impression.

So what's not to like? Well, the material sounds fine but impresses less for being more a collection of static mood pieces than compositions; in other words, there's little in the way of dynamic development, with Morgan more inclined to let a piece appear for four minutes before replacing it with another. The title track, for example, starts promisingly enough with a warm, quasi-ambient groove of electric guitars and bleeping synths but then does little but carry on unvaryingly in the same mode for almost seven minutes, a tendency that afflicts other material too.

December 2005