Ruxpin: Where Do We Float From Here?

Poppy in tone and blissfull in synthetic spirit, Ruxpin's Where Do We Float From Here? harks back to the golden age of IDM and does so without apology. Jonas Thor Gudmundsson's sixth Ruxpin full-length clearly shows the love the Icelandic electronic composer has for the era, and apparently the love is shared by others too, given that the release first appeared on n5MD's digital imprint Enpeg Digital in 2009 but proved so popular n5MD decided to give it a physical release on the parent label too. That the tracks ooze polish doesn't surprise, as Gudmundsson's been refining his craft for years with releases on labels such as Uni:form Recordings, Elektrolux, and Mikrolux. What does surprise is the album's dual personality, with the first half's mellow vibe in stark contrast to the rambunctious spirit that infuses the second.

Not a cover of The Beatles song, “I Saw Her Standing There” serves instead as a luscious entrée to the fifty-five-minute collection. Faint echoes of drum'n'bass form the backbone to “Her Body Smells of Cinnamon,” and track after track of swoon-inducing blends of crystalline synth melodies and hyperactive breakbeats follows. “Where the Wild Things Are” captures the carefree abandon and innocent joy so memorably captured by the Maurice Sendak classic, and song titles alone (e.g., “Chasing Dandelions,” “She Played This Song for Me When I Was Five”) convey the music's child-like joy. It's not all sweetness and light, however, as the material hits harder during the album's second half: Gudmundsson sneaks a smattering of acid into “I Noticed You Hovering Above Me” and dives so deep down the acid rabbit hole during the tripped-out “Underwater Playground (Starfishes Are Invited)” the track could pass for something by Luke Vibert under his Wagon Christ or Kerrier District aliases. Squiggly synthetics and breakbeats likewise kick up serious dust in “A Sunrise (and They Turned into Stones)” before the stately closer “Now I Turn To You” reinstates the becalmed splendour of the earlier songs. Gudmundsson's richly arranged set-pieces for pianos, synthesizers, and electronic beats don't break new ground necessarily but Where Do We Float From Here? charms nevertheless on purely musical grounds.

April 2010