The Tuss Rushup Edge

[Rephlex; 2007]

Styles: highspeed techno virtuosity, breakcore
Others: Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares

It’s rumored that The Tuss is Richard D. James hiding behind an alias pulled from Cornwall’s phallic argot. Perhaps. For fans of James’ work, the real identity of the artist responsible for Rushup Edge should matter little. Whether the cuts here are authentic AFX work or simply the character studies of a very faithful disciple, they fucking shred. “Death Fuck Mental Beats,” indeed.

Rushup Edge plays like a highlight reel of Aphex Twin’s brightest moments. Although different in texture and scope than last year’s Analord releases, Rushup Edge proffers a similar synthesis of the various Aphexes of yesteryear. We’ve got the insidious, percussive frenzy of Richard D. James material coiling and snapping around the spectral blooms of the earliest ambient work from the '80s and '90s. The tracks are so glutted with molten, pulsing ideas that they rupture their own skins and skitter violently in a hundred directions, like beautiful carcasses bursting with electrified maggots.

The coked-up baroque flourishes are enough to dazzle (or frustrate, depending on yr taste) for many listens, but one shouldn’t miss the cunning melodies shot through the relentlessly unraveling embroidery. The piano line on “Rushup I Bank 12” sparkles; the cooing pads of “Goodbye Rute” are lovely if not original; “Synthacon 9”’s chaotic arpeggiation occurs beneath limpid, rippling pools of synth tone.

Almost all music can be traced back to the opposition of repetition and surprise. Electronic music, in particular, with its digital capacity to reproduce sounds over and over again with exactitude, must capitalize on clever transitions and movement to achieve surprise. Amid the current conquest of deep house, a techno fan can become accustomed to waiting on subtle changes that amount to 1s in place of 0s. The Tuss barely gives a listener the chance to create an expectation that can subsequently be upset -- things move too quickly. Nonetheless, patterns do emerge, but their subversion is violently unconventional, almost post-logical: no gentle passage from 0s to 1s here; it’s more like 0s to ricocheting butcher knives.

The radical prowess on Rushup Edge is powerful evidence of a good producer’s deserved claim to the titles of composer, sculptor, and musician. Making music like this requires a mastery of both machine and motion, along with a bold imagination. The Tuss has all of this and a Jamesian demontwinkle in his eye. Let’s hope for more, under any name.

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