Finnish musician Esa Ruoho has been releasing experimental techno for about a decade, mainly under the name Lackluster. His real name is reserved for the more abstract, less rhythmical side of his work in electronic music. “Riversmouth”, his first release on Attenuation Circuit, is a perfect example of this. There are no beats, but lots of things happening in terms of shifting shapes of granular textures, high-frequency oscillations working against seismic trembles in the lower bass regions, and then the occasional hauntological voice-like overtone structures.
Full of harmonic tension, but never noisy, this release might appeal to fans of Asmus Tietchens, Alva Noto and other Mille Plateaux acts, or even Phill Niblock. Within the attenuation circuit catalogue, Esa Ruoho’s release provides an exciting new take on the drone/ambient borderland also inhabited by EMERGE, B°tong, Sghor, Mystified, and Sustained Development.
Although he’s been pursuing a prolific and critically-successful career making techno music as Lackluster, every now and again Helsinki’s Esa Ruoho releases something beatless under his given name. The last time was three years ago, so each new piece is an occasion, especially when issued in physical form and by as discriminating a house as Attenuation Circuit.
The river’s mouth is where the waterborne silt settles in the delta, a boundary zone between narrow and endless. Before debouching there, Ruoho follows the cloudy drift downstream to the sea, capturing every ripple and current with minimalist symphonic elegance. The flow is graceful but the sentiment is neutral, like nature itself. All sounds having been created by Ruoho himself, they shift in pitch and glide smoothly at his wet fingertips. They eddy in whirlpools until capable of freeing themselves from the centripetal force.
As the eluvial threshold is crossed, it simply slips away. A beautiful ambient work, tightly restrained yet flexile as a fish’s tail.