Dana Ruh – Yardang EP [BQD]
“We want to show that there is more than a trend” reads part of Brouqade Recordings‘s maxim. It would seem that label co-founder Dana Ruh has very much succeeded with her latest release on the label. Entitled ‘Yardang’, the three tracker is a wonderfully smooth, enticingly deep, odyssey. The EP sits on the cusp of accessible house, yet draws heavily on the more esoteric realms of minimal, tech and micro. Listening to the label’s latest compilation release, which came out last February, you can see how fluidly the outfit is able to travel between the groovier side of the spectrum and the more dreamy, minimal enclaves. Perhaps one thing that encapsulates the sound though is the presence of Latin-fused percussion and a teasing groove that threads through most of the releases. Dana Ruh has been a staple to the Berlin circuit for a number of years now, steadily expanding her discography through impressive releases on the likes of Sol Asylum, Underground Quality, Cocoon, and Ostgut Ton; it is no wonder, then, that she possesses such a mature sound, laden with a bright sensitivity for texture and development.
‘Yardang’ opens with ‘Case Sensitive’; soft cymbal splashes colour the underlying shaker and 909 rhythms, before jilted jazz chords crash nonchalantly into the mix. The vibe is immediately redolent Fred P‘s Black Jazz Consortium sound, cool, hazy, adrift. The loose drum ensemble complements the laid-back chord pulses while a tight off-beat hat ensures the momentum isn’t lost. This one reeks of a Detroit-esque quality, oozing with the quiet contemplation of late-night musings. The track is strangely soothing yet wouldn’t fail to get a dance-floor collectively moving.
‘I’m Surprised What’s Real’ is a strong contender for the EP favourite. As if ‘Case Sensitive’ was the prelude, A2 continues in its deep contemplation, characterised by a light rolling bass-line and aqueous soundscapes. Off-beat claps walk over the bubbling texture, wherein some really wonderful intricacies can be heard. The playful interjection of percussion lines almost prepare us for the soundmark at 02:17, a refrain that cheekily re-announces itself unsuspectingly at a later point. A subdued snare line saunters through the middle sections, meanwhile one can take the time to notice Ruh’s excellent management of percussion and texture – embellished with spaced-out pads and yet more detail in the reeling whistles and scatter-shot drums. The secret to minimal is subtle progression and this one unfolds with a most beautifully organic vitality. Eight minutes of bliss.
‘Yardang’ pushes further, though its introductory passage lies more firmly in the experimental region of minimal, and catches the listener off-guard. The way the kick later jumps into the mix is hugely satisfying, bringing a faint sense of order as the existing elements suddenly click together. The track kicks off on a techy vibe, illustrated via the off-beat clap and agitated hat and percussion lines. The distinctly avant-jazz vibe on this one makes this a pleasingly original piece – rogue snare and hat hits, mysterious celeste utterances, snatched voice samples. Wickedly unsettled percussion holds things together, its frenetic restlessness a reflection of the bewildered protagonist, seemingly overwhelmed by the dizzying, almost intimidating drum loop, “how can I go anywhere?”
Dana Ruh delivers here on all fronts, bringing a deft mix of tech and minimal that stylishly encapsulates the convergence of the Detroit-European sound. In a bottomless sea of saturated, formulaic material, ‘Yardang’ stands out as a release with real substance and longevity to it. This is one people will be digging up years down the line, enraptured by the three unsuspecting weapons that are contained on this 12″.