Gantz – Ruff 4
Known for his unapologetically leftfield excursions, Istanbul’s Gantz is an enigmatic presence in electronic music whose creative output has included a number of noteworthy offerings, including seminal dub record ‘Volume One’ in collaboration with scene mainstays Commodo and Kahn.
It is no secret that the producer’s offerings tend towards the weird and the eerie (to borrow a term from Mark Fisher) and ‘Ruff 4’ stays this trend. The record opens with ‘Maniac’, a noisy, IDM-inspired opener with haunting, plonky textures, menacing low-end and glitch-ridden percussive elements. The track firmly establishes the line of sonic inquiry that Gantz takes on this record—experimental, industrial, and claustrophobic, all slathered in spacey atmospheres.
“Mud Eater” is next up, barging its way to the front with a distorted bass riff, sticky hits, and a particularly unnerving tempo shift at 1.26. In essence, this sounds like a sort of cursed electro tape and goes some way to establish the uncomfortable (and intriguing) tendency of this record to play fast and loose with genre, tempo, and time signatures to further immerse the listener.
“oneiromancY” bears more of a Techno influence, heralded by a booming four-to-the-floor kick and jittery percussion. This is accompanied by hits that sound like a sharp inhalation of breath through an oxygen mask, further confirming my very biased view that this is indeed a record about space. All is starting to become somewhat discernible until Gantz, once again, toys with the listener’s expectations. Around halfway through the preceding track, Mud Eater, is stitched onto the composition amidst grainy, spectral synths. The filters and effects employed in this section lend a haunted quality, the passage sounding as though it is being played through a dusty, long-forgotten console.
“Cum 2 Mud” opens with relatively clean, jazzy drum riffing which is soon offset by several of the creaky, industrial bass sounds that characterize the record. As briefly referenced earlier, it is not often you hear time signatures and rhythms being toyed with so liberally in an electronic music release. The track is as much experimental jazz as it is a piece of electronica, which opts to sway in and out of dubstep influences as it pleases.
“Twice of Something” opens like a doom metal track. Clacky, detuned bass is skewered by cascading breaks and shifts with just enough regularity to never let the listener settle. At 2.44, a formidable bassline takes center stage, almost anchoring the track which amalgamates into something like a cross between halftime and a very leftfield baile or reggaeton track.
Finishing up with “Who is the Kid?”, Gantz chases the halftime high with lashings of vintage Alex Perez, Shades, Ivy Lab, Eprom, and others, all served with a relentlessly experimental tilt. It really is saying something that this track is probably the most conventionally mixed on the record, whilst still making room to chop and change the vibe with unsettling moments aplenty.
The track concludes an intrepid sonic exploration which would be an excellent fit as a murky soundtrack for an experimental film or game. In the case of the latter, 2014’s Alien: Isolation came to mind.
A tweaker’s delight (or worst nightmare), Gantz’s “Ruff 4” is best experienced late at night. This could be whilst you’re tucked up in bed, considering if there is life out there and, perhaps more importantly, whether the life out there is friendly.
Posted on August 7, 2023