Following in the soul-meets-street geneology of artists like James Blake, Brooklyn group RUWA has released an album of glitchy, synthetic beats overlain with chilly vocals that leave claw marks down your ear canal. WEIRDO is a brief but forceful event of an album; a piledrive of R&B by way of NIN. Composed mostly using Ableton Live software, WEIRDO’s greatest strength is probably the balance it manages to find between its live, human components and its digital origins.
There is a distinct hint of new wave vocal pop – something in the vein of Japan, perhaps – to be found in the otherwise computer-composed glitch music of WEIRDO. Fully electronic freak outs like “HELLO MY NAME IS” and “THE SCENE” are set up against palliative R&B tracks that sound almost as though they’re derived from late ‘90s funk music. Indeed, shorn off guitar parts add an element of quiet angst to the otherwise compositionally erudite performances.
“Bad Habit” takes the kind of hyper self-aware electro-pop that a group like Metronomy produces and gives it something of a dark spin. The vocals sound feeble and strange, yes, but their decomposed nature puts them in interesting contrast with the heavier handed Ableton Live electronics. On “Rich Kids” the haunted, Frankensteinian vocals weave in and out of spiky electronics, maneuvering between phantomic warbles and breathy whispers.
By the time you’re hit with the defeated immediacy of “Rain” you will likely have only just started getting a fee for WEIRDO. But the album’s brevity only adds to its cleverly dichotomized dynamic, leaving you truly unsure of exactly what kind of album you’ve just listened to. Ensuring, perhaps, that you will come back to find out.
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