Like many other Holodeck releases, SSLEEPERHOLD’s Ruleth LP needs roughly three measures of playback to begin conjuring mental images of the approaching era when robots have taken over our society and routinely force us with gleaming chest panels and syringe-like appendages to carry out all the tasks we once gave them before the robopocalypse. José Cota’s solo sessions stretch out as swathes of engorged synth tones clashing with oscillator noise and cassette collage, all laid out atop a drum machine stomp, with just enough reverb on the bass drum to find that early industrial sweet spot on your cortex grid and prod it incessantly.
If you were expecting some kind of resolution to your stroll through the Conquered Lands after the robot uprising, you’re not gonna get it. Maybe you’ll find an undented can of Progresso among the ruins of a nice single-family home caught less than 40 kilometers from the blast radius, but it’ll be a small victory compared to the miles of post-urban ashscape you have left. As Cota’s tracks grind on, synth melodies manifest and pile together into bleeping counterpoint structures reminiscent of Wendy Carlos’s sorcery — a connection fully soldered into its titanium chassis by track titles like “Timeghosts” and “Dreamwaves.” But SSLEEPERHOLD’s grim restraint, the stoic pace at which new elements hit the mix, allows us enough time to revel in each analog drum or synth tone, with the kind of unbridled admiration that our electronic overlords can only dream/calculate of glimpsing in our fleshy little eyeballs. (“Will they ever love us, as we once loved them?” the RoboMonarch wonders aloud, gazing out upon the charred husk of a public garden.)
Find some comfort in the fact that even in the dystopian absence of telecommunications networks, intercontinental fiber-optics tunnels, and any reliable correspondence with other groups of human beings outside of your eyeshot, you still might one day happen upon a basement chamber in which SSLEEPERHOLD has plugged a 909 and a Walkman into an ethanol-powered generator and is still pounding out the jams for a semicircle of exhausted rebel commandos at a volume low enough to not bleed through to the surface.
• Holodeck Records: http://holodeckrecords.com