Over the last decade, Finnish electronic producer Lackluster (real name Esa Ruoho) has grown to become one of the leading lights amongst the global IDM scene, and this 16th release in total from him arrives on the Soulseek network’s new SLSK label imprint – in fact, it’s only the second release for the fledgling label. Apparently inspired by the theoretical writings of visionary thinker Viktor Schauberger, the six tracks collected together on Repulsine represent an ode by Ruoho to water in all of its myriad forms. As the liner notes here elaborate, Schauberger’s central contention was that life is sustained by a gathering, inwards type of movement, and the “repulsine’ concept was his way of physically manifesting his theory. In this case, a repulsine is a machine that mimics the methods of nature, creating energy by encouraging a centripetal, inwardly spiraling movement of water or air. Absolute straight lines are rarely a natural occurrence, therefore the repulsine mimics the curved lines that are the mainstay of our natural environment. The above conceptual conceit is certainly evident in several of the tracks here, which fittingly were produced while Ruoho was on the move between England, Ireland, Canada and his native Finland.
Opening track “Hmainham’ is certainly emblematic of the above conceptual themes, indeed, its soft-focus, drifting ambient synth-pad motifs and effortlessly gliding minimalist broken rhythms aptly recall the lazy ebb and flow of liquid in motion, a rhythmic trajectory that’s nicely picked up on by the considerably more brooding “TKB’, which winds ascending melodic elements through a relentless web of refracted-sounding synth tones and clattering broken polyrhythms. In many senses though the two aforementioned tracks represent the most intriguing inclusions here, with much of the remainder of the tracklisting occupying a somewhat middle of the road utopian-sounding IDM furrow that sadly doesn’t really add very much to the established genre – “One Cycle (More)’ fairly anodyne fusion of wistful glacial synth tones and fractured, snapping broken beats being a case in point. While Repulsine certainly offers plenty of pleasant diversions throughout its 32 minute running length, given Lackluster’s formidable reputation amongst the contemporary IDM genre, I must admit to expecting something a little more “out of the box.’