Ruskin & Broom – Basement Jams [BP057]

RUSKIN, James/MARK BROOM - Basement Jams

James Ruskin and Mark Broom returned to their Techno bunker after some solo outings and their more experimental project, The Fear Ratio. They now deliver four new tracks of ”Basement Jams”. Expect heavyweight basslines, sharp stabs, tough grooves and a high level of funk to the metallic sonics that sets them apart from other releases.

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Ruskin & Broom – Basement Jams [BP057]

James Ruskin – Consumer Patterns [BP056]

Blueprint main man James Ruskin is back on his own outlet with a fresh platter of searing techno. “Consumer Patterns” is built on drums that hammer so hard they could put a nail in your wall. The loopy synth lines that run through them add wonky brilliance, then “Social Acceptance” is pure anxiety inducing techno with unresolved loops sending you wild. “Weakness Of The System” is more through, with broken beat patterns and nagging chords suggesting a sense of loss and bring real melancholia to the dance floor.

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James Ruskin – Consumer Patterns [BP056]

Truncate – The Bell [BP055]

Truncate (aka David Flores) returns to James Ruskin’s Blueprint with a new 3-track EP. Truncate continues to shape his evolving sound that he launched in 2011, from the tribal energy of ‘The Bell’, via the piquant twang of ‘Initials’, to the deep sensibilities of ‘Timbre’.

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Truncate – The Bell [BP055]

VA – Structures & Solutions: 1996-2016 [BP20167]

Founded 20 years ago, Blueprint Records has remained one of the true driving forces behind British techno. To celebrate this special anniversary label founder James Ruskin and Blueprint friends have created a compilation of brand new music to celebrate this landmark. These exclusive tracks are released here as the ‘20 Years Of Blueprint Compilation’ limited edition box-set, with a collection of four clear vinyl records as well as poster and sticker inserts.

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VA – Structures & Solutions: 1996-2016 [BP20167]

The Fear Ratio – Skana EP [BP035]

James Ruskin and Mark Broom return to Blueprint Records as The Fear Ratio with ‘Skana EP’. The EP delivers four new beautifully crafted cuts, while still lending themselves to the dancefloor. With their tough, heavy basslines, overlaid with syncopated beats, clipped tones and synth led melodies, ‘Skana EP’ continues where ‘Light Box’ left off and shows once again why these two talented UK producers are still at the very top of their game.

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The Fear Ratio – Skana EP [BP035]

The Fear Ratio – Light Box [BPLP003]

‘Light Box’ is the first artist album to bear fruit from the recent studio partnership of James Ruskin and Mark Broom – aka The Fear Ratio. As The Fear Ratio, Broom and Ruskin delve into the hinterland of contemporary music. A space where cold atmospheres meet lush melody and tough, yet clipped pulsating beats. From the warm polyrhythmic funk of ‘Ax’ to the deep spatial reverb of ‘Guv 1’, the dub induced strains of ‘Pinhead’ and melancholic refrain of ‘Morning Blues’ Ruskin and Broom deliver their new artistic agenda.

vinyl / CD

The Fear Ratio – Light Box [BPLP003]

O/V/R – Post Traumatic Son (Marcel Dettmann mixes) [BP030.3]

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Adding to an already outstanding group of re-workings from Robert Hood, Ben Klock, and DVS1, Blueprint now present the final chapter in the ‘Post-Traumatic Son’ remix series. The final mixes come from Berghain’s resident Marcel Dettmann.

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O/V/R – Post Traumatic Son (Marcel Dettmann mixes) [BP030.3]

Mark Broom & James Ruskin – Erotic Misery [BP031]

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James Ruskin and Mark Broom follow up their previous and serious selling outing (BP029 No Time Soon) with a stonking slab of the dark techno stuff. ‘Erotic Misery’ ploughs a heavy 10 minute groove of dry humping bass throbs with a payload of acrid synthline dissonance while ‘The Future That Was’ hankers for classic dark techno memes with a dirty, pipe-rolled bass sound and Millsian ambient drones. ‘Black Lines’ is far slinkier, kinked with swinging drum patterns and stealthy synth arrangements.

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Mark Broom & James Ruskin – Erotic Misery [BP031]

O/V/R – Post-Traumatic Son [BP030]

O/V/R - Post-Traumatic Son image

Regis and James Ruskin team up for a highly effective new O/V/R excursion. The title track is a lean and uncompromising pounder, layered with tension building synthlines and a relentless attitude. ‘Descending the Left Corner’ is a little trickier, set with a deadly bassline swing akin to the Kalon tracks meshed with simmering Basic Channel style synth modualtions. Finally, ‘Crippled Nurse (and Water)’ indulges their more esoteric inclinations with a screwed downbeat acid number nodding to classic A.I.-era ‘tronica.

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O/V/R – Post-Traumatic Son [BP030]

James Ruskin – Blueprint (RA Label of the Month 1004 Mix)

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RA

Label of the month: BlueprintQuality over quantity has been the guiding principle for this London techno label over the past decade, and it has been better than ever since its relaunch in 2009. RA delves into the history of James Ruskin’s Blueprint.There’s a lot of lip service paid to quality control among electronic musicians. Listen long enough to any label boss, and you’ll hear them bemoan imprints (never named, naturally) that are flooding the market. James Ruskin doesn’t bother complaining. But his actions betray him. In 14 years of operation, Blueprint has had a grand total of 29 official 12-inches. A few limited edition EPs, a small sublabel have added to the pile, but here we are in 2010. Still awaiting BP030.

It won’t be long, Ruskin assures us. In 2009, the London-based DJ/producer relaunched the imprint after a short hiatus. Since then, Blueprint has been releasing work at a breakneck pace. Four whole 12-inches in 12 months. Perhaps most surprising of all, the output came from names—O/V/R, Valmay, Mark Broom—never associated with Blueprint before. “The original idea for the label was a vehicle for Richard [Polson] and I,” Ruskin says. “What we were trying to achieve was very specific. We got sent a lot of demos—we got sent good demos—but they didn’t necessarily fit. Blueprint wasn’t about releasing music for the sake of releasing music. That’s why it remained around the core of people that were there at the beginning.”

Ruskin, Polson and Oliver Ho were the trio of producers that formed said core for much of Blueprint’s early history. And if it hadn’t been for an unsuccessful live show, Ho might have never joined the label at all. “Oliver was doing something with a friend, very rudimentary. It didn’t go overly well, but I heard something in what he was trying to create with the sounds—and the manipulations of those sounds. I asked if he had some material that he was working on for this label we were starting up, and that was it basically.”

Outline

Outline: Richard Polson and James Ruskin

The trio were among a small collection of producers in London that were breaking free of the prevailing techno sound of the time. “Underground Resistance was a huge inspiration. The lo-fi attitude was something that I was really drawn to.” It was a movement that was taking hold in places throughout the UK at the time, most notably in Birmingham. “I remember going to the record shop right before Blueprint started and picking up the early Downwards records. As soon as I heard them it was yeah, yeah. I related to the sounds, the way it was put together. It sounded right to me.”

With Ruskin and Polson teaming up in the studio under the name Outline, and Oliver Ho releasing under his own name, Blueprint soon had that aforementioned specific sound. “Could I put what that is into words? Probably not. But I can hear it. If I hear a track that I like but isn’t quite right for the label, I couldn’t necessarily tell you what’s missing….When it gets me, it gets me. And that’s that.”

That thing in the mid- to late-’90s for Ruskin and Polson was raw techno. Ho’s sound was “spikier, more dry” and the Outline releases were more “rounded-off,” claims the producer, but there was a clear throughline. It was a sensibility, but it was also a function of the machines that were used as well. The label began at an opportune moment for budding producers: The first wave of electronic music producers were getting rid of their machines, trading them in for newer gear. This meant that, if you looked hard enough, there were pieces of equipment starting to find their way into secondhand shops across the country.

“We had an incredibly limited amount of gear at home. An Akai S950, a very cheap effects unit and an old drum machine. That was literally it. We paid about 600 pounds for this sampler, which at the time was a big deal to us. We immersed ourselves in creating as much as we could at home, though, because we didn’t want to go in and rent studio time.” It was time well spent. When Ruskin and Polson did the test pressings for the first Blueprint release, they sent the results to Surgeon. A few days later, they received a call from the Birmingham DJ. He wanted to come down to London and stay for a while, to find out more about this similar aesthetic emerging in the capital city.

The Birmingham connection is an important one. Indeed, many people called the type of techno that emerged at the time “The Birmingham Sound.” There were enormous parties all throughout the UK, however, that began to cater to the appetite for the more aggressive side of things. London had Lost, Liverpool had Voodoo, Leeds had The Orbit. Birmingham’s taste for the stuff led to both House Of God and Atomic Jam. “It snowballed really quickly. We were embraced by the people that really enjoyed that kind of sound,” recalls Ruskin.

Blueprint releases

Soon, continental Europe found itself just as interested. Surgeon gained a residency at Berlin’s Tresor club, a tacit acknowledgment that there was techno emerging from places outside of Detroit that seemed just as vibrant. Ruskin often traveled to play with Surgeon there, and soon had his own relationship with the club and, perhaps just as importantly, the imprint of the same name. Ruskin ended up putting out a trio of full-lengths across the course of the ’00s.

The final album, The Dash, was released in 2008. It stands as perhaps his most diverse work, reflecting both a change in working methods and his outlook on life. Outline production partner and label co-manager Richard Polson left Blueprint in 1999, but the duo remained good friends until Polson tragically died in 2006. In an interview with Test last year, Ruskin admitted that the full-length was “created for Richard. I don’t like to use the word tribute as I don’t really know if that is the right way of describing it. It was definitely a process and a focus for me after he passed away and that helped me to deal with things.”

It’s clear that, despite the fact that Polson neither DJ’d nor had much interest in learning the nuts and bolts of production, that he had an enormous impact on the direction of Blueprint in its early days and UK techno in general. “Richard was very much the behind-the-scenes guy. He was very much about creating the vibe, he kept the feel of the project on target. It worked out really well. But then my schedule as a DJ started to take off and it became harder and harder to find the time.”

James Ruskin

Blueprint label boss James Ruskin

The allure of success, however, never exactly infected Ruskin to a degree that he couldn’t stop. “I wanted to step back for a bit [in 2006] and wanted to make sure that my next step was relevant. I was looking at what everyone else was up to, looking at how the scene was progressing…. I didn’t have the connection at the time with the studio and what was happening at the time to create music for the right reasons. And that’s always been very important to me. The creation of music to fit current perceptions of what is cool makes music a product.”

The distance gave time to Ruskin to reassess, to ensure that the music that came out under his own name—and under the Blueprint banner—wasn’t a mere product. Last year, the label reemerged with an EP from O/V/R, the first release of the new project from Ruskin and Birmingham techno producer Karl O’Connor (AKA Regis). It seemed like an obvious move. The duo had been working on the tracks for years together, and the music scene at the time was finally coming back to techno in a major way due to the work of labels like Ostgut Ton and Sandwell District, the latter of which O’Connor also records on regularly.

“I think there’s a wave of music being made at the moment that has a depth, a grit, a raw organic feel that wasn’t around for a few years. The sonic qualities of the stuff that is coming out on Ostgut, for instance, is really interesting to me.” The same goes for Valmay’s Radiated Future which emerged last year, perhaps the finest moment of Blueprint Mk. II. UK techno vet Paul Mac’s release fit neatly into the zeitgeist and yet stood eerily outside of it, sampling Charles Bukowski’s haunting, drunken poetry to frightening effect on the title track and finding room for expression in tempos slower than are traditionally associated with the imprint’s fast-paced textured techno on “Old Dog.”

Valmay will return in 2010 if all goes according to plan, as will O/V/R. Robert Hood, too, will make his Blueprint debut with a remix later in the year. And Ruskin is set to keep busy outside of Blueprint as well, with material forthcoming on Ostgut Ton and an upcoming remix of Planetary Assault Systems. Like those heady days in the mid- to late-’90s, there seems to be a self-sustaining scene forming around this type of techno once again. When the ebb inevitably happens again a few years down the road, though, your best bet will be to keep an ear open to Blueprint. Ruskin may have a tough time explaining what it’s composed of, but he knows quality when he hears it.

Blueprint

Blueprint mix

This month, our special label of the month mix is from Blueprint’s James Ruskin, with the label boss fitting some of his favorite tunes of past and present amongst a blistering selection of Blueprint material.

Download: RA Label of the Month 1004 Mix: Blueprint (right click + save target as)
Filesize: 115.4MB Length: 01:40:15

Tracklist
01. Unique 3 – Theme (Autechre Mix)
02. Silent Servant – Noise Modulation
03. Valmay – Distrust
04. Bauhaus – Bauhaus
05. Saint Etienne – Your Head My Voice (Aphex Twin Mix)
06. Vex’d – 3rd Choice
07. Marcel Dettman – Shift (Norman Nodge Remix)
08. Surgeon & James Ruskin – Sound Pressure
09. James Ruskin – Massk
10. James Ruskin – Graphic
11. James Ruskin – Lahaine (O/V/R Mix)
12. Gary Beck – Limehouse
13. Deadbeat / Fenin – Teach the Devil’s Son
14. Shlomi Aber – Create Balance
15. Autechre – Second Peng
16. Delta Funktionen – Silhouette (Marcel Dettman Remix)
17. DVS 1 – Departure
18. Polson & Ruskin – Institute for the Future
19. Planetary Assault System – GT (James Ruskin Remix)
20. Valmay – Old Dog
21. Portion Reform – Reduction
22. O/V/R – Fallen Night Renew
23. Marcel Dettmann – Unrest (Norman Nodge Remix)
24. Autechre – os veix3
25. Deepbass – Blackout
26. Lee Holman – Kawl
27. James Ruskin – Work (BP Mix)
28. Valmay – Radiated Future
29. James Ruskin – Sabre
30. Mark Broom & James Ruskin – Hostage
31. Lucy – Gmork (Luke Slater Remix)
32. Mark Broom & James Ruskin – The Metal Man
33. Sandwell District – LTD
34. Peter Van Hoesen – Terminal
35. Surgeon – The Crawling Frog Is Torn and Smiles
36. James Ruskin – Solution
37. O/V/R – Interior
38. James Ruskin – The Outsider (Luke Slater’s ME Remix)

Published / Thu, 08 Apr 2010

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James Ruskin – Blueprint (RA Label of the Month 1004 Mix)