Daniel Ruane-Incandescent: EP Review

Got an advance copy of this album.  Definitely work checking out when it drops next Friday.

On his new EP, Daniel Ruane showcases his knack for building up tension in an ambient setting that also hints at dance-able electronic beats for rhythmic drive.  Comprised of four songs, the work flows by quickly and primarily showcases Ruane’s strategies for building up sounds into rousing climaxes.  Although this may seem like a relatively straightforward concept, Ruane surprises in the way the elements he develops come together.  Rather than slowly building on a foundational idea, Ruane circulates various melodies in and out in rather interesting fashions making for a solid overall effort.

“Incandenscent” emerges from a scene indicative of the hustle and bustle of lunch in a crowded food court.  Large bass movements begin to take over the attention with pulsating rhythms replacing the texture of chatter.  As the piece moves forward, a certain aura encompasses the witness as various synth sounds circulate with glitchy electronic sounds attacking the left and right side.  The song opens the collection well, introducing Ruane’s chilling emotional impact and his balance of rhythmic DJ-mixing and sweeping ambient work.

“Codon” follows with a heavier emphasis on rhythm. Pressing synths swell throughout with deliberate punches constantly being added to the equation.  After a rather large climax on the track, Ruane favors a slightly more stripped back approach on “Amino.”  Opening with what sounds like a field recording in a barren industrial landscape, the track thrives on space with distant bassy sounds surrounding the echoing rhythmic centerpiece.  As the piece fades out, the brightness that began it begins to fade into bleak darkness, which leads into the final component of the work “Exo.”  Dramatic drones slowly emerge into the dark space that envelopes the track, ending off the album with a final push of intensity.

Ruane offers a great deal in terms of layering.  Each piece obtains a wide sense of space with massive, low-frequency pulses complimenting the main focal points.  Atop his foundation, Ruane builds a great deal of rhythmic and melodic components and constantly circulates focus making for a highly contrasting experience.

It’s also nice to hear an ambient piece with so much attention paid to rhythm.  Oftentimes, ambient music focuses a bit too heavily on developing melodies and textures, but Ruane occasionally approaches dance music with punching beats coming into the equation.  Now, there are more spacey instances with a seeming absence of rhythmic drive but, whether directly or indirectly, Ruane maintains some conception of rhythm through every crevice of the work.

This, of course, is not an entirely new concept, yet by virtue of the constant circulation of focus, the dance rhythms are a bit more concealed in the grand scheme of the album.  Whereas DJ Shadow and Aphex Twin make dance music more introspective with ambient leanings, Daniel Ruane drives his ambience forward with quite tributes to the electronic dance DJs that have come before him.

The work is certainly a bit formulaic.  Every song is seven minutes and some change with a general build-up being the basic developmental structure.  Considering that it’s an EP, the work still functions well, but the success of his next full-length may be contingent in his ability to achieve a bit more unpredictability and contrast in his developmental structures.  Nonetheless, the album is a fitting re-imagination of the ever-changing landscape of musical ambience.

-Donovan Burtan

7/10

I’m intrigued, hope to hear a slightly more unpredictable full-length at some point

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