It seems like 2016’s been packed with previously unreleased discoveries and reissues of lost ‘classics’ that were often filed away and forgotten by their creators at the time, and this latest release from Canadian label Suction certainly fits that category. RX-101 is the somewhat clinical sounding alias of Netherlands-based electronic producer Erik Jong, a self-confessed Rephlex Records fan who recorded a heap of tracks directly to cassette between 1997-1999 using a Juno Synth, Roland 808 and 303, an early Akai sampler and an Atari computer for sequencing. After Jong found his ongoing interest in making music diminishing during the project’s later years, he stored the tapes in a box in his attic, where they remained until 2013 when he rediscovered them by chance.
After he started uploading a few tracks to Soundcloud, he attracted the attention of Suction’s Jason Amm, who was apparently at first convinced that RX-101 was another enigmatic Richard D James alias, and this was another part of his massive online track dump. After listening to the contents of this album ‘Like Yesterday’, which compiles the two 12” EPs previously released this year by Suction, it’s certainly not hard to see why Amm suspected a possible Aphex connection. Indeed, opening track ‘Tunnel’ calls to mind one of Universal Indicator’s spikier moments, as a relentless 4/4 kickdrum thuds beneath harsh bleeping electronic jitters and an eerie sampled vocal loop that seems to intone “Tony Wilson knocks / and then everyone can see” repeatedly against the rhythmic pulse.
If the aforementioned track comes across as all hard surfaces and brittle edges, ‘Morning Glory’ sits closer to TV library music given an added electro funk injection as squelchy 303 bass tones play off bright ascending synth chord sequences and noodling melodies, the rapid fire metallic rhythms that rattle above representing the one point of tension, while elsewhere ‘The Calmness of Distortion’ sees vocal samples being pitched down into beast-like growls as a juddering techno rhythm hammers beneath atonal whirring tones, and at points you can even hear the redlining kickdrums saturating the cassette’s frequency spectrum, which if anything adds to the sense of relentlessly coiling machine tension.
The focus isn’t just upon punishing rhythms here, though. ‘Bloom (pt.1)’ calls to mind Warp’s classic ‘Artificial Intelligence’ compilations more than anything else as bright melodic chords play off a backdrop of zapping IDM rhythms and noodling keys in a manner that suggests early Black Dog or Polygon Window, before timestretched broken rhythms rise into the foreground during the track’s second half and the Juno 106’s distinctive tones stretch like neon trails into the distance. While a lot of the material slots in neatly alongside and complements the IDM / braindance directions being explored by the likes of Rephlex and Planet Mu during the late nineties without really adding anything out of the box, fans of the above styles are likely to find plenty to interest them here.