STEVEN RUTTER – BrainFog (Periscope Records)

FireScope Records, the scion of B12 Records, releases its first album from none other than its chief commander, Steven Rutter. The second credited solo release from Rutter, it signals another step away from B12 as he steadily builds on a singular vision of work under his own name.

With previous releases on labels such as Warp, Soma, Delsin, ART, Buzz and De:Tuned, one of the original founders of UK techno is guided inward for this collection of 12 brand new tracks. Developed over 2 years, these tracks have previously appeared in his numerous solo live shows but are presented here for the first time as one complete narrative. The album, titled ‘BrainFog’, is the creative and spiritual catharsis of a journey beginning circa 2010, which saw the producer on a hospital bed, hours away from an ascent to the heavens and subsequently depressed and anxious while seeking liberation and escape through music. The daily battle with darkness continues today and this album is his emotions laid bare. Hauntingly beautiful in its fog-filled melancholy; it’s our pilot’s only solace on the lone flight to recovery.

The opening track, ‘Sleep Gives Freedom’ is a slow, risky start for an album but pays tribute to that safe place which one can escape from everything that surrounds. Put this on to escape and be lulled into a walk through the fog. The following track ‘Statuesque’ stands tall as a classic techno tune — a stomper with lush strings, tough beats and a bassline that shouts loud and proud. Emotional and heartfelt with a smattering of percussion, ’Memories of You’ is written for a best friend, an orbiting soul who is now light years from earth.

Throughout the album, the clouds of despair and decay are never far away, interspersed with bright but fleeting moments of lightness and hope. ‘Cracked Reality’ slightly disturbs with its sparse and pounding construction, before the decaying beauty of ‘Degenerator’ and its mirroring track, ‘Oracle Unleashed’, offer two perspectives to the same theme. ‘Squad Free Force’ throws back to early hip hop with its old school drums topped with an eerie spin and warmly wrapped in heaven-sent pads. The album’s two quirkier compositions come in the form of ’Infinity Engine’ and ‘Takedown’. With a pure 909 techno sound, ‘Infinity Engine’’s incredible pads offer a path from sadness to elation and happiness. A different live version may be released later in the year. ‘Takedown’’s chuggy sideways groove further breaks it down — no matter who or where you are; there is always someone somewhere that wants to bring you down, sometimes it’s yourself.

The album’s last track, ‘Hand in Hand’ is probably the most upbeat of the album, and a call to take the hand of the one that is there for you, whether in physical or spirit form. The drums and pads start the track off, before a disjointed sliding bassline sets the scene for a top-line string. Euphoric and uplifting, it is a reminder to respectfully embrace all that which remains good in the world. As a punctuation mark, the final note of the track is a full stop that puts an end to the journey from brain fog to clear heart.

“I give all that I am to this musical force that burns with me.”

Finished in two different coloured vinyl a/b and c/d in a wonderful gatefold featuring the artwork of Sarah Sparkes.