James Ruskin, Jealous God 02

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[Jealous God]


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There’s going to be an urge to talk about Jealous God as the successor to Sandwell District. The compulsion is perfectly understandable: again we are dealing with a triumverate (this time with James Ruskin in place of Function) who have established a very strong identity both visually (c/o Juan Mendez) and sonically for the label. That identity has, so far, manifested itself as two “issues” each comprising a 12″, a mix CD, a small pamphlet, and, for a surcharge, an oddball item (so far, either a tote bag or a dagger). This sense of “collectability” is not without precedent: while early Sandwell releases epitomized the no-nonsense, paper-sleeved 12″s that have the hard-working DJ in mind, later missives flirted with ultra-limited editions and tchotchkes thrown in the sleeve (most notably with Feed-Forward‘s now-infamous release).

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At the end of the day, however, Jealous God is a techno label, and the only thing that will matter to most people is the music found on the piece of wax they’ve bought. Issue number two is from James Ruskin, and it lays out six tracks of techno so engaging that all miscellanea are quickly forgotten. “Into A Circle,” which featured on Sandwell District’s still disappointing Fabric CD, proves much more captivating than its use there — the kind of peak-hour techno whose distant pads and storming percussion enthrall almost effortlessly. “The Nature Of Our Hurting” is more toned down, with minor-key chords creating an almost melancholy atmosphere, while the half-stepped “What Falls To The Ground” feels cinematic with its big-room textures and cathedral-filling pads.

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That cinematic quality is pushed further by the record’s three “Excerpt”s. Each clocks in at under two minutes, yet they’re immersive enough that they hit harder than much of the off-cut ambient pieces so often tacked on to 12″s. “Excerpt Two” hits those cathedral motifs again with heavily reverbed organ sounds and choral effects, while “Excerpt Three” drifts along nicely for a mid-record breather. But it’s the killer “Excerpt One” that makes perhaps the biggest impact of the whole 12″ — a single chord progression whose environment continuously expands amidst a rising torrent of percussion. It’s so tempting to want more as the percussion subsides after only two minutes, but Ruskin’s confidence and restraint is admirable, and “Excerpt One,” just like the whole of Jealous God 02 leaves the listener begging for more.

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