Ryan Elliott, Rocksteady EP

[Ostgut Ton]

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Ryan Elliott’s debut release for legendary German label Ostgut Ton — following his appearance on the Fünf compilation last year — inhabits a gray area between the split personalities of Panorama Bar and Berghain, and it’s arguably a good place to be. The American Spectral Sound A&R guy, who built up his profile on the backs of his DJ sets, crafts two tracks somewhere in between house and techno; and while they aren’t exactly bursting with color or personality, there’s something to be said for how far Elliott can reduce his sounds without sacrificing pure impact.

“Rocksteady” is uncomfortably, obsessively quantized, with every element moving in unnervingly exact precision. The rigid bass line and shuddering, robotic hi-hats predict the monotonous chord progression that floats in later, unapologetically flat and static. The result is eminently machine music, making minuscule concessions to petty notions of variation or development, an unforgiving slab of automaton dance music whose huge presence is at odds with the track’s sparse construction. Letting up the pressure slightly, the beat in “Steadyrockin” feels an iota less constrained, favoring a heaving beat (thanks to the warm and gooey bass line) over precision propulsion. A touch of humanity even leaks through when piano accents bracket the track’s insistent chords, but it’s a feign, a decoration — Ryan Elliott isn’t here to make a piano house banger. So while it might not be as adventurous as some of the label’s very best material, Elliott’s debut is perfectly streamlined and ruthlessly efficient. What’s more Teutonic than that, even coming from an American?

The Guvna  on March 25, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Ryan Elliott does not give a single damn about you or me. Ryan Elliott just plays mad jams tha break dance floors in half. Every single week. Non stop. Rain or shine. Good soundsystem or bad soundsystem. Not only does he play mad crazy jams, he now makes them. God help us all…

rubin  on March 26, 2011 at 10:25 AM

quality release from ryan, this and the track off funf are hopefully the start of a very good thing with ostgut.

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